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

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NoahLikesFish

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At this point I basically have equipment decided. I’m going to do experiments to make a mechanical wave box on my filter and I’m going to do research on habitats. once I get a wave making Hob I will make a thread of how i built it. My idea right now is to take a rubber band or something with resistance so it will only move if there’s a certain amount of water
 
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Aslong as your friends fish/ corals/ inverts not suffering and dying etc and they giving their livestock best they can.as someone said earlier we are the caretakers of the water and need provide best/ safe environment we can
 
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I might do research on the UG, It might be beneficial because in reef systems there is a lot more rubble and also sand and more current so it’s more likely that there would be flow going through the substrate.
 
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The only bad I know of is when my friend did a wc on his tank for the 1st time in 10 years his sea apple died and nuked His tank. Otherwise he had like cucumbers corals lots of cool stuff thriving in his tank
 

ying yang

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once I get a wave making Hob I will make a thread of how i built it. My idea right now is to take a rubber band or something with resistance so it will only move if there’s a certain amount of water.




Be interesting to see what adding a rubber band to a hob would do
 
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ying yang

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The only bad I know of is when my friend did a wc on his tank for the 1st time in 10 years his sea apple died and nuked His tank. Otherwise he had like cucumbers corals lots of cool stuff thriving in his tank


Sounds like your friends tank.
All the inhabitants got so used to the environment/ then the wc changed the chemistry of the water to fast .but hey idk anyway i need to go.good luck buddy
 

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I hate to break it to you, but there's no way to even remotely mimic natural ocean habitat in a 20g. Hell even public aquariums have trouble doing it in 1000+ gallon tanks.

If you're dead set on a low tech 20g then ditch all your fish stock ideas and pick up a few small fish that don't produce a ton of waste. Clown gobies, neon cleaner gobies, sharknose gobies, springer's damsels, banggai cardinals, ocellaris clowns, fire fish, court jester gobies, prawn gobies, tailspot blennies.

Pick 3-4 of the above. Forget the hawkfish, the puffer, the lionfish, and definitely forget the clark's clowns.
 

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If you're trying to mimic a lagoon reef I would suggest looking at photos of wild ones and seeing the animals that exist in that area. I do think you should do wayyy more research on keeping a saltwater tank. Start off with a basic with hardy fish and keep that going for a while to get the hang of it. If there's a specific region you'd like to mimic look for smaller easier to take care of animals that inhabit that region.

Choose a hardy fish of your choice after the nitrogen cycle is completed and build up from there. No need for a protein skimmer on a tank that small but a HOB filter and weekly water changes are good.
 

iggy

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Here is something I would do. Cheap is a relative term in this hobby. Many things do not matter and some things are unavoidable in cost.

1 - 50 gallon breeder and stand (I would absolutely stay away from allin one tanks) NEW !!! Easy to light and big enough to be stable

2 - Used 3 foot ATI T5 pendant. 4- 6 bulbs 7-10" from surface (all but plug and play and proven) - BRS has videos to make it almost foolproof to get right bulb config and PAR Non-dimmable is fine

3 - Most HOB skimmers suck and almost not worth the trouble. If doing SPS then I would get Lifereef HOB only. This can be debated. Used ones are available but be carefull

4 - 25 lb Marco dry rock and Ocean direct sand are my preference.

5 - very small GFO reactor to hold 2 tablesppons untill exhausted, some chaeto in tank is preferred too.

6 - Instant Ocean and Salifert Test kits are good. I would get Hanna Checkers for Alkalinity and Phosphate.

7 - only use frozen foods and feed 1/2 to 1/3 of what looks reasonable in first year.

I would absolutely not buy someones failed "full blown" reef tank off craigslist. They failed for a reason and equipment is a part of why.

There are lots of good start up tank videos. Greg Carrol on ReefBum channel had one that looked decent for high end type tank but ideas are same for all.
 
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The only bad I know of is when my friend did a wc on his tank for the 1st time in 10 years his sea apple died and nuked His tank. Otherwise he had like cucumbers corals lots of cool stuff thriving in his tank
So that tank is almost as old as you?
 

Tuffyyyyy

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I heard horrible things about him. I don’t trust him. Why can’t a 3” hawk fish (basically a goby) work in a dense rocky reef tank
You've heard horrible things about the reefer with the most subs on YouTube? That's probably a stretch. Is the guy perfect? Absolutely not, but he's honest. And, most importantly, he's had a successful setup for years doing exactly what you're trying to do.

As for the hawkfish, they're a pretty large fish that just go from perch to perch. There absolutely will not be enough space for them to perch in that size of a tank.

Last thing I'll throw out (because I'm sure this thread is going to get locked at some point soon) - check out aliexpress for a light. You could get 2 of the 470nm bars for your tank and it'll look great. Might cost you $100, which is a steal, and it's all you'd need for that tank.
 
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NoahLikesFish

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I hate to break it to you, but there's no way to even remotely mimic natural ocean habitat in a 20g. Hell even public aquariums have trouble doing it in 1000+ gallon tanks.

If you're dead set on a low tech 20g then ditch all your fish stock ideas and pick up a few small fish that don't produce a ton of waste. Clown gobies, neon cleaner gobies, sharknose gobies, springer's damsels, banggai cardinals, ocellaris clowns, fire fish, court jester gobies, prawn gobies, tailspot blennies.

Pick 3-4 of the above. Forget the hawkfish, the puffer, the lionfish, and definitely forget the clark's clowns.
Could I keep a 3” puffer or a perchlet in there and then upgrade later Or return it. I’m dead set on a clarkii, i don’t want a inbred clownfish. Clarkii are much less inbred and have more natural behavior
 
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Could I keep a 3” puffer or a perchlet in there and then upgrade later Or return it. I’m dead set on a clarkii, i don’t want a inbred clownfish. Clarkii are much less inbred and have more natural behavior
Puffers and hawkfish like to eat crustaceans and snails. You can get a small one and return it in a year or so, but they will devastate your biodiversity in no time.

clarkii won't work. Find a wild ocellaris if you're worried about genetics and you're dead set on a clown or just scrap that idea altogether.
 

Alvaro_Spain

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Hi OP,

I love the passion you have for it. Most of us when we get older stop feeling that rush of emotions you youngsters have.

Having said that, keep reasearching and investigating. Think of this as a highschool subject in which you have to study for some months before the final exams. In this case the final exam is actually buying the stuff and building your tank.

A saltwater ecosystem can be done in 20 gallon but it all depends on what you want. Some live rocks with their microfauna (gammarus, etc...) some inverts, and some snails, with some macro algae. For instance. That MAY be actually COOL. To be honest. And you could even put some softies.

In any case, what you need to take in mind is that fish poo, and even if you feed little over time the water is gonna be "dirty". You have essencially 3 alternatives:

1) have a protein skimmer (I know you don´t want)
2) Have plenty of softies and macro algae that consume the nutrients
3) Do water changes (I DO 20% weekly)

But, if your main concern is if it can be done for less than $450, answer is YES, you only need to continue learning man, and most important, remember that even though we all usually think we are right, sometimes we are not. So listen to the people that have been much time in the hobby. We have all started this way.

Good luck. And don´t rush, neither in this hobby nor in life. :)
 

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The only bad I know of is when my friend did a wc on his tank for the 1st time in 10 years his sea apple died and nuked His tank. Otherwise he had like cucumbers corals lots of cool stuff thriving in his tank
Well, then your friend did something wrong. A water change (with fresh salt, ro/di water, proper temp, salinity, dkh, etc - preferably allowed to age for a day or two) should never hurt any tank inhabitants. In fact the likelihood of harming inhabitants is exponentially greater a by not doing water changes than by doing them. Unless you’ve got a skimmer, sump w/refugium, bioblocks, or are carbon dosing, water changes are necessary for nutrient export, especially in smaller tanks where there is less surface area and anaerobic areas (where the gases can escape) for denitrifying bacteria to colonize. DSB are, in general, more hassle than they’re worth (yes, there are people who use them and have great success, but as someone just starting out, with no experience, there are much easier and equally inexpensive ways to achieve the same ultimate goal that people use DSBs for (denitrification - again you’re not going to have more or more varied microfauna with a DSB vs a 3” sand bed).
 

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Honestly my best advice is to just do it and start somewhere but take it really slow. Learn and enjoy each process, like letting the tank cycle for a long time and watch the changes maybe try to get the macro algae growing and thriving before adding any fish and by then you will be able to settle on what will work in your tank and what you want. You will learn more from doing than listening to everyone here telling you to give up before you start. The slower you take it and pay attention to the tank the better your chances of success will be. And most importantly have fun.
 

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The only bad I know of is when my friend did a wc on his tank for the 1st time in 10 years his sea apple died and nuked His tank. Otherwise he had like cucumbers corals lots of cool stuff thriving in his tank

so your friend has had a reef tank since he was 3 ?!
That’s pretty impressive
 
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