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Old 03-10-2005, 04:44 PM   #1
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Tank Size - How big to start?

I used to keep freshwater fish and I am now very interested in starting again but with a SW this time. I've always wanted a big SW tank but I'm wondering if going big from that start (over 100ish) would be foolish since I've never managed a SW tank before. I've got Fenner's book on the way from amazon.com so I am sure that will answer many of my questions but I was curious what you guys started with and what you would recommend as far as tank size goes.

Thanks.
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Old 03-10-2005, 05:48 PM   #2
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A larger tank is much more forgiving and stable than a smaller system. I would say the bigger, the better. Of course the start up cost go up with the added real estate.
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Old 03-10-2005, 05:48 PM   #3
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I've heard (and believed ) that the bigger the better on SW because only bad things happen fast and they happen even faster in a smaller volume of water. We went with a 120 for our first tank and have been thrilled with it so far. Our only regret? Not having gone bigger

So I say go as big as you can afford! (Maybe even a little bigger )
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Old 03-10-2005, 06:01 PM   #4
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So I say go as big as you can afford! (Maybe even a little bigger )
Yes! I would say get the biggest one your wallet can afford. Not only that, but you wouldn't be as limited with the fish load.

Mike
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Old 03-10-2005, 08:05 PM   #5
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So with a tank that large what do you guys do when you change apartments/homes?
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Old 03-10-2005, 08:44 PM   #6
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If you move, you need to make sure you have PLENTY of small buckets to transport water, fish, rocks, and sand. It's a HUGE hassle, so if you're planning a move sometime in the near future, I would highly recommend that you wait till you're done.

If you just want to dip your feet into the hobby, a 60 gallon tank would be awesome. 72 gallon bowfront is nice too, although you pay most the money for the curved glass. Something of this size is more than do-able, but can still set you back a pretty penny. Think up some options, like if you want Fish Only, Reef, FOWLR, Sump, etc, and let us know. Lighting can get more expensive if you choose a deeper tank, whereas if you go with a large tank, you may want to consider a sump as well. Research is half the fun

The bigger the better... but regardless, planning is key. Check local newspapers for sales, and see what kind of deals you can find... you never know
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Old 03-10-2005, 08:57 PM   #7
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Looking for FOWLR with a sump probably. I currently in my last year of med school and my wife and I will be moving back to MI sometime in August so I can setup practice and find a house. We currently live in an apartment and I am for sure not going to get a tank until we have a house. So for the time being I am researching everything and getting more and more anxious to start a tank as the time goes on. When I asked about moving a tank I was thinking like 8 years from know or so and just imagining the hassle it must be.

On another note, Is there any benifit to going acrylic besides the interesting shapes you can find and the weight reduction?
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Old 03-10-2005, 09:00 PM   #8
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Research is half the fun
Ditto that, but when the fruits of the research begin to yield results!! WOW!!

I've had my tank up and running with LR for only 6 days, and EVERY DAY is somthing new. Today I discovered that those really cool clam shells imbedded in the LR were actually LIVING clams, and I found what looked like a patch of dandelions on a piece of branch rock: baby feather dusters (or tube worms of some type - more research needed) at least 10.

I can't IMAGINE what I would see with a bigger tank (mine is only 30 gal).

So, while size may indeed matter, my small one has already delivered much pleasure.

Don't allow yourself to be convinced that you have to go broke to enjoy this hobby - although it's going to be expensive. My 30 has cost me $1000 easy including everything, so be prepared.

Enjoy!!!
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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 03-10-2005, 10:45 PM   #9
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I'll toss this out there as well... plan on spending appx. $1000 for every 25 gallons of tank you purchase.

Bigger is better, I agree. But once I sat down and did the math, I decided I could afford a 58 gallon.
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Old 03-10-2005, 11:12 PM   #10
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Well I'm definitly still in the planning stage...would you mind sharing your cost break down that brings you to $1000 per 25 gallons?
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Old 03-10-2005, 11:39 PM   #11
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I don't necessarily agree with the breakdown (but it's not WAY out of line), because some of my costs included test kits, salt, skimmer, pvc plumbing, nets, food, which, while of course being recurring costs, don't necessary add up in the same way as LR and sand. Of course, lighting would be much more for a big tank so on second thought it's hard to say.

If I were to upgrade my 30 to a 55, I don't think it would cost an additional $1000, but certainly several hundred. OUCH.
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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 03-10-2005, 11:50 PM   #12
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Here's a rather rough breakdown for pricing that I used (for larger tanks):

Live rock: $8.00 per tank gallon
Lighting (halide): $700
Skimmer: $350
Circulation pumps: $300 to $800
Tank/stand: $1100

And then I tacked on an extra $1200 for micellaneous items (testing, heater, salt, RO unit etc, sump)

For a 150 gal tank with this formula: $4800 or $32 per gallon.

And then comes the livestock bill...
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Old 03-10-2005, 11:58 PM   #13
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If your in no hurry, you can find good deals on hardware from time to time and save a lot that way. I started by purchasing my equipment first as I found it piece by piece. Im still not finished. My own decision to start with a smaller tank has less to do with cost than it does convenience. I simply didnt have the room for a bigger tank. With that in mind, I could clearly see that my biggest expenses were liverock and lighting. With the lighting being the last piece of hardware to buy, the tanks installation simply happens when the funds for the liverock are available.

Already having my hands in the freshwater and planted tank hobbies, I am accustomed to daily interaction with the tanks. It doesnt scare me so much to start a small reef tank knowing that it will require constant supervision and maintenance. Once established, some nano reefs are quite easily managed with little effort; provided they are put together right with the right livestock. It is true that larger tanks are a lot more forgiving and safe; especially for a novice hobbyist. I agree with the crowd that you should set a budget and do some research and see what you can put together within that budget. If your budget seems a little small, dont be afraid to try it as long as your willing to give it some effort and time.
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Old 03-10-2005, 11:58 PM   #14
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It's pretty darn close to Aspec's $1000 per 25 gallons of tank.
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Brown Tang, mated pair Clowns, 4 Fire Gobies, 13 Chromis, Orangespotted Sleeper Goby

Some corals and inverts yet to be identified!
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Old 03-11-2005, 01:56 AM   #15
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The bigger the better and I would say go as big as you can afford as well but not so big as you cant afford to keep it up and maintain it, these large tanks need daily up keep and require a lot of time to get them up and going.
I dont wont to even think about a break down in price or I'll freak out but I would say $1000 per 25 gallons might be on the low side personally for a fully set up and stocked tank. My reciepts for my 150 add up to closer to $10,000. it's not the big stuff that added up for me but the small things you dont think about like an rodi unit,medications, salt,power heads, calcium reactors,refugium, timers,skimmer,heaters,pumps, trash cans,water holding tanks, etc, etc, etc, and a lot of the nick nacks that you need to keep it up and going. I know not everyone gets as carried away as I do but I'm sure a lot do. I did my set up over several months and continue to upgrade and add new things weekly. I'm not trying to scare anyone off but it is an expensive hobby and thats a fact.
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Old 03-11-2005, 11:34 AM   #16
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I, also, agree with Aspec's rough figure of about $1000 per 25gals.

I was 'guessing' that I could do a 120RR tank but I just added it all up and it's a little over $5000 without fish. I think I can get that price down a bit if I shop around or go with some used equipment but still... I think I budgeted about $3000 for myself.. So much for the 120!

So, now I've been checking out between 50 - 65gal tanks to keep it affordable. But that's still $2500 - $3000 for a Reef tank.
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Old 03-11-2005, 12:02 PM   #17
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$1,000 per 25gal is a little ridiculous.

Here's my 125 in comparison:

Live rock: $8.00 per tank gallon (My 80lbs of live rock came with the tank, but I can get LR all day long around me for $5/lb) = $400

Lighting (halide): $700 (Again, my PC lighting came with the tank, but I did buy a separate 250w MH system for $150) = $300

Skimmer: $350 (A plastic tube with a hole in it and a MJ1200) = $40

Circulation pumps: $300 to $800 (Maybe 3-4 PHs and a return pump) = $120

Tank/stand: $1100 (Deducting the value of the lights and the LR, the cost would be zero, but let's just say I bought the used tank and stand) = $300

Miscellaneous Items (Salt, heaters, Canister filter, food, coral supplements) = $500


For a total of $1,660 for 125 gallons, or $13.28 per gallon.

I've probably spent $1,500 on livestock. So I'm at about $3,000 for the entire tank.
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125 SW
80 lb LR
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Euphyllia, Alveopora, Pachyclauvularia (Metallic Green and Daisy), Frogspawn, Torch, Gold Nepthea, Kenya Tree, Galaxea, Pulsing Xenia, various leather (umbrella, toadstool, fingers, devil fingers, lettuce)
Maroon Clown/White tip LT anemone, Powder Blue Tang, Female Swallow Angel, SixLine Wrasse, Solar Fairy Wrasse, Firefish, Fathead Anthias, Blue Mandarin, 3 Chromis, 3 Green Gobies
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Old 03-11-2005, 02:39 PM   #18
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Ridiculous, come on, I say your theory is, If you did a vote on this site I would venture to bet that most would come closer to $50 than $13. However buying a used set up is normally cheaper, most opt to go new. Now I'm not saying it cant be done cheaper but that old saying you get what you pay for seems to always come into play. IMO
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Old 03-11-2005, 02:40 PM   #19
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Buying used or going the DIY route will definitely drop the price, as will using less than the 2lbs per/gal LR formula. I bought my whole system (minus the skimmer, sump and circulation pumps) for $700. The overall pricing for a new set-up (using quality equipment) would still be around the $40 per gallon range.

Have you noticed any problems with under 1lb per gal of LR in your tank in regardas to biological filtration?
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Brown Tang, mated pair Clowns, 4 Fire Gobies, 13 Chromis, Orangespotted Sleeper Goby

Some corals and inverts yet to be identified!
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Old 03-11-2005, 02:45 PM   #20
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You can save a lot on the rock by ordering online.
I would venture to say I have at least $7000 into my system. Like Thumper stated, its the little stuff that adds up. Easy to forget about in the big picture.
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