1st reef tank, needs to be done cheap (I keep freshwater planted ecosystem aquariums)

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NoahLikesFish

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Alright, so after watching some father fish and doing some research and chatting with friends I decided that I am going to make my 20 long into a macroalgae and soft coral reef. I Don’t know how much it will cost though. My goal is to spend under 450$. I will be buying 100% live rock which will be half of the cost. If I wanted to use dry rock I would just put chalk in my aquarium. I am also going to use a deep sand bed with crushed coral for the most possible microfauna and healthy anerobic activity. It is going to have 2 cheap powerheads to give it about 800-1000 gph of flow (no filtration) then as much live rock as I can afford. Also I am going to source my sand and a lot of macroalgae from the wild and hopefully get microfauna out of it. After thats all said and done, I am also going to buy a reverse osmosis unit (Maybe) and my own salt (maybe) to be able to. Do water changes while the tank is establishing. The lighting is going to be 3 LED floodlights which are fairly bright. I don’t really care about having crazy acros. I might get some cheap brown acros but mostly I’m just going to stick to cheap softies (no zoas, I hate how they look and I’m not messing with palytoxin) have advice for stocking? and other tips? I probably want a valenti or maybe a Pygmy lion. And definitely some kind of blenny, I really like the starry blenny. Beyond that I just want cheap hardy fish that would do well in a low tech environment that dont need much special care besides feeding and stable water. I do go on vacation a lot so fish that can eat frozen food or pellet food would be required. I know How to wean fish like peacock eels (from freshwater) and feet small nano fish onto flakes and things so I can most likely wean stuff if needed. I am also going to have extreme levels of pods as fish food. That’s all I really gotta say.
 
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I am not spending money on a skimmer they are literally useless. All they do is remove food and coral nutrients from the water, if I only feed enough for the fish to eat, I won’t need to remove food.
 
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I don’t want some kind of wild caught glofish glocoral tank I just want a plain and simple real reef with macroalgae , no dosing, occasional water changes unique fish like hawk fish and blenny to fill niches, lots of microfauna and inverts and nothing else, no reactors no sump no filter (probably) powerheads do the same thing as a filter anyway
 
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Does seran wrap stop evaporation? i have bad luck with glass lids and i Don’t know how to get polycarbonate that dosent cost 100$
 

Bepis

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Lol anyone who thinks they can keep acros, in a cheap system, cheap lights, and first run, trust me spend early because in the end you will just keep having to add stuff and the budget will go to kingdom come. Of course with due effort and determination one can have great success in a super low budget build, maybe even get acros but a your water stability would literally have to be perfect, lights probably not powerful enough, nutrient control on point, algae blooms controlled, water changes perfectly consistent, water topoffs consistent, manual dosing on point in small intervals, temperature fluctuations less than 2 degF max, and many more. Additionally the comment that
I am not spending money on a skimmer they are literally useless.
mid so bland and ignorant that I can’t even fathom it. They do way more than stated and sometimes you must feed more in order to keep your coral and fish happy. Please do some more research before you dive into something deeply sophisticated. This hobby is vastly different in correlation compared to fresh water.
 
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Here’s my tanks, I gotta top off my 40 gallon, I rarley if ever do water changes and the nitrates stay at 0 my 10 gallon is my attempt to breed psudomugils
 

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Bepis

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I don’t want some kind of wild caught glofish glocoral tank I just want a plain and simple real reef with macroalgae , no dosing, occasional water changes unique fish like hawk fish and blenny to fill niches, lots of microfauna and inverts and nothing else, no reactors no sump no filter (probably) powerheads do the same thing as a filter anyway

Does seran wrap stop evaporation? i have bad luck with glass lids and i Don’t know how to get polycarbonate that dosent cost 100$

a. You need gas exchange in a reef tank, and evaporation is necessary and PH stability is a requirement in any tank

b. Powerheads just cause circulation, they definitely are not filters in any way, they do not remove phosphates, detritus, nitrates, nitrites, or any chemicals that make there way to your system
 
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From that video I can see your friend has a skimmer a sump and who knows what else.
 
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Just softies and macros. Maybe lps if I see something really cool and also corals that come on the rock. Nothing else though
 
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