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Old 02-08-2005, 03:32 PM   #1
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How to start an Aquarium for $150?

The following interaction recently took place in another thread...

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Originally Posted by quarryshark
Quote:
Specifically, I've found an Eclipse 12 Saltwater kit for about $150 that's just about the right size and shape.
BTW, you could set up a 30 gallon for that price. At least the basics.
...but I'd like for someone to explain the details of how this could be accomplished.

I've continued to do more research, and I can't find a way to make the numbers fit. It seems like it is going to realistically cost $200 - $400 to start a saltwater tank anywhere between 12 and 30 gallons.

Tank - $50
Power Filter - $30
Heater - $30
Test Kit(s) - $40

The cost for just these basic elements gets me to $150 and I still don't have salt, water, rock and/or sand (substrate)?

So realistically, what is an inexpensive way to start this hobby such that I have something usable should I decide to expand, but yet have not invested too much if I decide the maintainance isn't worth it?
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Old 02-08-2005, 03:40 PM   #2
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Well, you really don't want to be starting a tank in the first place if you don't have the money to keep it up. You may be able to set up a tank for $200, BUT, you will incur charges quadrupling (if not more) that in the future for more water, salt, and electricity... not to mention replacement filters, bulbs, and fish. The Elcipse doesn't come with LR/Sand, and you need to get your own water. The salt they give you is only enough really for the initial setup and a water change... you will have to buy the rest, preferably in bulk.

For now, I would suggest the 30 gallon tank if you're new to SW, the extra investment in equipment will be worth your while if you choose to go to a 55 in the future. Eclipses are nice, but are hard to keep up, especially if it's only 12 gal. Check out some of the articles in the DIY forum if you're good with your hands... it can REALLY cut down on cost. My 20 gal sump cost me $3 at a yard sale... so depending on the deals you can find, you can certainly get this awesome hobby started up for cheap. You can make your own canopy, and just have the top have eggcrate, and a basic NO light fixture is cheap from HD. Stand can be DIY, or can be placed on a sturdy countertop. Filters can be bought used, or cheap on ebay... if you have LR, the only real filter you would need is a good skimmer... and for a 30 gallon, your choices are large. Don't forget a powerhead or two!! HTH
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Old 02-08-2005, 03:49 PM   #3
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The Eclipse setup is basically a rip off, they sell you a normal Eclipse tank/hood, stick some salt mix and a hydrometer in the box, call it a marine tank and try to get people to buy it. I shudder to think about the number of Clownfish that have perished in such a setup

Anyway, "the basics" in saltwater really depend on what you want to do. If you want fish only, you can get by pretty cheap, but not $150 cheap. If you want to have inverts/corals/live rock in the tank, the price is going to start climbing fast. Also, there are a lot of other costs like and extra powerhead and heater for mixing saltwater since you need to mix it before adding it to the tank. I currently have over $1,000 into a 15g tank, it does not take long to get there...
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Old 02-08-2005, 04:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grimlock3000
Anyway, "the basics" in saltwater really depend on what you want to do. If you want fish only, you can get by pretty cheap, but not $150 cheap.
This is confirming what I've been seeing... that if I want to "test the waters" in this hobby, it's going to realistically cost me a minimum of about $300 to $400 in startup costs for a "small" system.
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Old 02-08-2005, 07:37 PM   #5
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if I want to "test the waters" in this hobby, it's going to realistically cost me a minimum of about $300 to $400 in startup costs for a "small" system.
I think you may be right. Keep in mind, there are ways to cut corners but the end result is not good. This is really a hobby that requires things be done the right way from the begining. Otherwise people just get frustrated and give up becuae they have made things too hard for themselves. Its funny, after "Finding Nemo" came out, I am sure there were many people trying to get by cheap so their kid could have Dori and Nemo in a 10gal. tank by the bed. Now everyone here knows that is just not going to work, it doesn't, many fish ended up with the "circular" burial and many tanks ended up in the garage. I am not saying that you need to go out and spend $2000 right off the bat. If that were the case, there would far less people enjoying this great hobby. What I am saying is that there are some things you just can not skimp on, especially in the begining. For under $500 I think you would be able to do a 38gal tank the right way and enjoy it. Also, check the want ads in the paper, you can find some great deals. It is not cheap, but it does not have to break the bank either. good luck...Lando
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Old 02-08-2005, 07:47 PM   #6
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If you are interested in having fish in the house but don't want to break the bank, you could probably do freshwater cheaper than saltwater. While freshwater fish in general are not as colorful as saltwater, some of them are pretty cool. It might be a cheaper way to get in to fish to see if you really like having them in your house before you sink big bucks in to a nice saltwater setup.
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Old 02-09-2005, 12:47 AM   #7
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Ask around... all those people who wanted the Nemo and Dory probably still have that equipment. Without trying we came upon free 55 and 65 gallon tanks... which was good because my husband and I couldn't agree on sw or fw... so we now have one of each.

If you're patient you'll probably find something... although unless you're really confident about the equipment I would suggest getting new equipment, (heater, filter, etc...)

Just be sure to test for leaks before setting up!
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Old 02-09-2005, 09:57 AM   #8
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One more important point on buying used tanks (besides checking for leaks) is to ask the owner if they have ever used any copper based medications in the tank. If so, it would not be an option for a reef or invert tank. It would still make a great FO QT tank.
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Old 02-09-2005, 12:30 PM   #9
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I've paid out about $800 for my 30 gal so far, and I still don't have a thing in it.

I've bought a skimmer, heater, sand, salt, test kits, food, thermometers, PVC and cement for plumbing, and pumps.

I've yet to buy live rock and/or critters, and I will need to upgrade the lighting someday.

It will top $1000, easy.....
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30 gal standard 55 lbs LR, 60 lb live sand, 10 gal sump/refugium. Urchin skimmer, mag7 pump, 3 x 96W PC combination 10,000K/actinic bulb, 2 blue LED moonlights
SG 1.024, temp 79.5, pH 8.4

Livestock I added:

1 skunk cleaner. 12 hermits: red, scarlet, blue. 15 or so assorted snails. Discosomas, Ricordia, Rhodactis mushroom corals, chaetomorpha (sump), 1 feather duster, Montipora digitata, Montipora capricornis, Montipora hispids. assorted zoos, Xenia, Kenya tree coral, green Sinularia, green star polyps, branching hammer coral, bubble coral, Devil's hand leather. Yellow chromis, purple firefish.

Hitchhikers: the usual suspects :crabs, bristles, urchin, mantis shrimp (now in exile in mantis tank)

List of possible/likely newcomers:

Feather duster. PJ cardinal, Bangghai cardinal, Firefish goby, Clownfish, Neon goby, Yellow watchman goby, Orchid dottyback. Various corals.
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Old 02-09-2005, 03:34 PM   #10
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If medications have been used, is there a way to clean the tank off for future reef use? I think a tank I have laying around had that Ich-away tablets that turn the tank blue... that stuff put in it... not sure if it's copper based or not.

Maybe wash the tank out with vinegar?
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Old 02-09-2005, 08:03 PM   #11
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You can do it very affordable I have a 5g hex thats been up for 4 months

lr 40.00
sand 20.00
tank 45.00
50/50 pc 10w light 11.00 (I know its not enough I am making a new hood)
new hob 50g 35.00 (biggest that would fit on the 5g hex)
test kit 20.00
nemo 10.00
frag of polyps 3.00
leather coral 35.00
kent reef starter kit 15.00

234.00

the only thing that has died is a condy that was sucked into my intake.
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Old 02-09-2005, 11:33 PM   #12
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$150 for a 30 gallon beginners setup is very doable. You just have to hunt a bit and be willing to fab some equipment here and there. You probably know 2 or 3 people with old tanks they will give you for next to nothing, probably with a stand. The rest is just pieceing it all together. I have *maybe* around $700 in my 140g soft reef, not including livestock. For fowlr I could have done it for around $300.
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Old 02-10-2005, 12:09 AM   #13
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50/50 pc 10w light 11.00 (I know its not enough I am making a new hood)

Wonder where you can get a PC 10W for $11.00?

Anywho, I just setup my tank 45Gal. and it cost me $1900.00CDN(so about 1300-1500US$) I bought most of my stuff from 4 Provinces(states)over cause it was ALOT cheaper. I consider the prices I payed for stuff and I think I did pretty good. I hardly consider what I have to be a great setup, but for now It'll do.

My advice would be if your trying to be cheap, perhaps you should consider another hobby. I dont mean to sound rude so I apologize if I do.
A SW aquarium is a great thing but you'll only get out of it what you put in to it. From what I've read and heard, Spend more money now and you wont regret it in the end( IF your SERIOUS!)
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Old 02-10-2005, 05:12 AM   #14
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Im also in the midst of setting up my 75 gal tank i purchased right after christmas lol... its been a while since then but im making sure i get everything right before i jump into the setup. I would say i've dropped at least 800-900 dollars and still haven't purchased live rock.
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Old 02-10-2005, 01:02 PM   #15
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My advice would be if your trying to be cheap, perhaps you should consider another hobby. I dont mean to sound rude so I apologize if I do.
It's not so much that I want to be cheap. I prefer to spend more money to get QUALITY products that to try to get by with cheap products. But I also don't want to spend $1000 on a hobby that six months from now I no longer consider it worth the effort. Basically, I don't want to become that person that can "donate" to the neibor that gets interested next year.

Of course what really got this thread started was a previous thread where I asked about an Eclipse12 SW tank for $160 being a good starter tank. One of the responces that I got was the I could set up a 30g tank for $150. But from the research I've done, I was finding that impossible (at least purchasing NEW equipment).

So the REAL purpose of this thread was to confirm that FOR ME, setting up a $150 30g tank is rediculous. Sure it can be done, but you need either connections, friends, or a place to get things cheap, and the know-how of this hobby. Since I don't have ANY of those things, it's rediculous to think I can set up a 30g tank for $150.

So even if I started with an Eclipse12, I'd still be spending $250-300 just to get started after purchasing LF, LS, test kits and other misc items.

But my real thinking is that I wouldn't be really happy unless I started with a 30g tank. Sounds like startup cost would be $500 - $750 (for what I'd want) and right now, I don't need to be spending that much money (we're about to pay for a 14-day cruise costing $$$$, so now might not be the time to drop $$$ on a NEW hobby).
as I've looked at the numbers, it's realisticly looking like I would spend AT LEAST $500
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Old 02-10-2005, 06:16 PM   #16
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there is the light

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...=6&pCatId=9870
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Old 02-10-2005, 06:40 PM   #17
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rent a car and a good thug for 150 bucks and go rob a fish store
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Old 02-10-2005, 06:44 PM   #18
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I understand your point. I guess I started with a couple FW tanks thats what got me interested. Why not maybe start with that? It wont cost as much and you can see if you really like it. Also valuble lessons can be learned from it.
just my 2 cents

Interesting PC link by the way. that'll be nice for all those people that are stuck with the ol filament bulbs
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Old 02-10-2005, 06:57 PM   #19
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there is the light

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Old 02-10-2005, 07:24 PM   #20
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Well, call me a skeptic, but I simply don't believe claims of complete 30+ gal tank setups for $300. I guess it depends on your concept of "complete". Add a pump (I bought two), heater, live sand, thermometer, hydrometer, skimmer, salt,water (RO), etc., and there's just no way to do it for $300, unless you are lucky enough to get some things for free or at garage sales, foreclosures, etc. (Or if you buy such cheap stuff that you'll end up replacing it all at a much higher cost later on.)

Like I said, I'm already at over $800 for a 30 gal tank for which I already had the lights, stand, tank itself, tank for a sump, and a decent heater, and I don't have anything in it except live sand. This $800 cost includes sand, salt, food, RO/DI, thermometer, acrylic and pvc for sump, pumps, powerheads, new nets, kalkwasser, maintenance/cleanup stuff, containers for mixing salt + water and for storage, buffer and test kits for pH, calcium, phosphate, hardness, and ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. It does NOT include live rock and macroalgae, inverts and fish - nor increased lighting for coral.

Just my 2 cents on top of my $800+ dollars.
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30 gal standard 55 lbs LR, 60 lb live sand, 10 gal sump/refugium. Urchin skimmer, mag7 pump, 3 x 96W PC combination 10,000K/actinic bulb, 2 blue LED moonlights
SG 1.024, temp 79.5, pH 8.4

Livestock I added:

1 skunk cleaner. 12 hermits: red, scarlet, blue. 15 or so assorted snails. Discosomas, Ricordia, Rhodactis mushroom corals, chaetomorpha (sump), 1 feather duster, Montipora digitata, Montipora capricornis, Montipora hispids. assorted zoos, Xenia, Kenya tree coral, green Sinularia, green star polyps, branching hammer coral, bubble coral, Devil's hand leather. Yellow chromis, purple firefish.

Hitchhikers: the usual suspects :crabs, bristles, urchin, mantis shrimp (now in exile in mantis tank)

List of possible/likely newcomers:

Feather duster. PJ cardinal, Bangghai cardinal, Firefish goby, Clownfish, Neon goby, Yellow watchman goby, Orchid dottyback. Various corals.
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