Arguments for many small tanks vs one large one

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by starypotter, Oct 9, 2018.

?
  1. One giant system

    166 vote(s)
    42.1%
  2. Many smaller individual systems

    35 vote(s)
    8.9%
  3. Many smaller connected systems

    23 vote(s)
    5.8%
  4. Both? Both? Both is good.

    94 vote(s)
    23.9%
  5. It depends

    20 vote(s)
    5.1%
  6. I'll stick with one 'average' sized system thank you

    56 vote(s)
    14.2%
  1. starypotter

    starypotter Well-Known Member

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    Hi everyone,
    I'm curious to know what your personal opinions about each since some days I'll end up drooling over the monster tanks, but then when someone has a handful of smaller systems those are all pretty amazing too.
    I could see the appeal of both really and how some people just may not be able to have one or the other, thinking especially of those monster systems.
    Of course with the larger system brings bigger fish, more automation, and the opportunity for less work. Then with the smaller tanks gives room for more variety, such as a tank with only one specific sort of thing, you could still have fish that may not get along just in separate systems. I'm not strictly talking nano tanks here either though I guess that varies with your definition of nano.

    Personally as much as I would love to have one of those big tanks 125+ I know it's not exactly a realistic dream at this point in my life, I'm still in school, still living at home, and babysitting cash will only get you so far. So to me it sounds a lot more realistic to have multiple more mid size systems, or a bunch of smaller displays plumbed together, those customs tanks are big bucks after all. What are your preferences?
     
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  2. nautical_nathaniel

    nautical_nathaniel Indecision may or may not be my problem. R2R Supporter Reef Squad Leader R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    One tank that gets all of my attention is my preference, with multiple tanks you'll likely have a favorite of the bunch that gets more love and attention and the others may suffer.

    I often times will see YouTube fish keepers with tank rooms filled with Aquariums and can't help but notice there's always one or two that are very dirty or have the lights off so you don't really notice them. They'll try to make you believe their tanks are all 100%, but any keen aquarist will be able to spot issues really quickly if they present themselves.

    Aquariums can be quite the commitment, couple that with the added requirements of saltwater and reef aquaria and you may be setting yourself up for failure if you put together more than you can handle, both time-wise and resources-wise.
     
  3. TheWalkman99

    TheWalkman99 Active Member

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    My 180 can be a lot of work and expensive but the first night watching it with fish in it was one of my favorite things to watch in my fish keeping career.
    Also I have a 20 gallon convict breeding tank with a grow out tank underneath. Both of those get less love then the big Tank.
    But having a big tank with one or two smaller tanks for special projects is the way to go I think.
     
  4. andrewkw

    andrewkw Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    While my dream is an 8 foot peninsula I will always have multiple self contained systems. I am generally not a fan of plumbing everything together, but in certain situations it does work. I do not like to put all of my eggs in one basket. If one tank explodes and I catch it in time I can move any survivors to the other tanks. A more realistic situation is a heater exploding a dosing pump getting stuck ect. Even a smaller problem like a line being clogged and not noticing means only one of several tanks will suffer.

    It's more work, but it's safe. It also allows you to try different things. Different lighting, different levels. High flow / low flow. High alkalinity / low alkalinity ect. The possibilities are endless and as many who have been in the hobby even a moderate length of time find out there are so many different ways to succeed. I like to try different things. Either to figure out what works best for me, or just to try for fun since the hobby is really about having fun. I also tend to like some unique creatures (cuttlefish, octopus, garden eels, sexy shrimp ect). If I see something random that is not compatible with my tank I can put it in another.

    My current setups which on their own aren't that impressive but total up a decent collection :

    112 gallon mixed reef - this tank is my current pride and joy
    90 gallon - rock only tank - right now this could still be anything but I am currently planning on finally doing an sps dominate system after 12 years of mixed reefs and mixed success keeping too many different types of corals. This is the tank I usually use for the weird stuff.
    10 gallon sexy shrimp softy nano reef - nano reefs are fun. You mention still living at home and low on funds. Setting up several nanos may be the way to go. It could also help you figure out your niche. Also it will make moving out much easier if you have small tanks to move vs big.
    I also have a 55 gallon frag tank / coral overflow tank. I can use this for isolation / qt and it allows me to keep my displays display looking. No frag racks and out of control corals can be trimmed. I don't count having a couple of 10g qt tanks since they only have water when needed.

    Each extra tank certainly means some extra work, but anyone who is serious in the hobby should have 2 systems if they can manage it imo. There are some things you can do to make this easier but still maintain separate systems. For instance when I change water in my main display, the discarded water is used in the frag tank and the frag tank water is used in the nano reef. I can complete 30 gallons of water changes with 10 new gallons only.
     
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  5. Finnaddict

    Finnaddict Active Member

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    From my experience 1 tank would be best. I have had multiple tank going and it was time consuming. Like mentioned the one tank will get all your attention. Only 1 tank to buy equipment for, clean, change water , test, ect. Just keep in mind. The bigger the tank , the bigger the cost.
     
  6. starypotter

    starypotter Well-Known Member

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    Oh wow I never even considered that you're right I could easily see that happening especially if tanks are spread throughout the house. Luckily this is just a practice in procrastination, I'm not even close to considering adding any more, at least not while I'm awake.
     
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  7. starypotter

    starypotter Well-Known Member

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    Oh gosh, I think I should have clarified in my original post that this is just me being really bored, curious, and not wanting to do my school work, I'm in no way looking to upgrade or expand at this time.
     
  8. Aquavaj

    Aquavaj Active Member

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    Some just love the setup more than the upkeep. With so many people quitting it's easy to find cheap equipment that just feeds that desire.
     
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  9. Geebs19

    Geebs19 Give me all the Euphyllia R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    My goal when we build our next house is to have a very large tank in the basement which will be the main living room built into a wall and then have 1 or 2 smaller tanks throughout the house.
     
  10. starypotter

    starypotter Well-Known Member

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    Those do sound pretty great, and I do love the idea of having a tank for this and a tank for that. I've seen some pretty neat nano tanks just crawling with sexy shrimp and I love that idea... maybe when we get a new tv and... well there I go again ;)
    You bring up a pretty good point about if one system crashes they all do, that's a big thing to consider, my thought process was that instead of (random numbers for example only!) 4 40breeders with 20g sumps, skimmers, pumps etc, you could have those 4 40 breeders all go back to a bigger sump with only one bigger skimmer, pump etc.
    I do get a taste by having a frag tank as a coral/invert QT, so it's something at least!
     
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  11. starypotter

    starypotter Well-Known Member

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    Subscribing to that build thread now ;)
     
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  12. JumboShrimp

    JumboShrimp Well-Known Member

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    I started with two (2) 7-gallon all-in-ones to get my feet wet. Now I have a 90-gallon 6’ long tank. I still have the two small tanks going, but to be honest, I would enjoy putting more focus on the main tank. And don’t forget: I have a QT going at all times—sometimes two—so that means up to five (5) tanks. Too much, as others have expressed. I think there is very good reason why people constantly say, “buy the biggest tank you can afford” (and enjoy it!).
     
  13. ca1ore

    ca1ore Valuable Member R2R Supporter CTARS Member R2R Excellence Award R2R TV Featured Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    I voted 'it depends' because ….. well, it depends. I always prefer a single, large display. You can do things with a single large tank that you cannot with smaller ones. But, there are uses to smaller, connected tanks - a refugium, frag tank, RDSB as examples. QT systems must always be separate of course.
     
  14. cpbartak

    cpbartak Member

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    With many smaller tanks, you can dedicate each to a particular type of coral (nps, softy, lps, sps). You can also keep dedicated tanks to differ types of weird and wonderful moving animals that wouldn't work well in a community tank. For example, a mantis shrimp tank, a tank for cuttlefish, a tank for seahorses, etc., and cater to the specific needs of each type of animal. Additionally, multiple small tanks can be moved on your own should you ever move to a different house. Whereas large tanks are a pain to move and require a lot of helpers.
     
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  15. norfolkgarden

    norfolkgarden Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019

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    1 "large" tank (it's only 75 gallons) and a few separate small ones for completely different things.

    Lol, placed at least 10' apart to avoid possible cross contamination.

    Not just water droplets but grabbing the wrong thing from one tank and using it in another.
     
  16. ScooterV

    ScooterV Active Member R2R Supporter Partner Member 2019 Build Thread Contributor Hospitality Award

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    A single large one, or multiple small ones in one system, seems like less work. Just testing alone could get cumbersome. But, for those who enjoy it, it does allow them to get creative as well as have disease isolation.

    Is not SW related, but reminds me of my bedroom as a kid. I had a 55g african cichlid tank, a 29 tall amazon themed tank, a 10 gallon all mixed glowing tetras with black gravel and a skull, and another 10 gallon for my bumblebee gobies and a hive. lol, doesn't coult the entire basement filled up with tanks for breeding bettas and Dad's two FOWLR tanks upstairs. Diversity can be fun!
     
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  17. Gregg @ ADP

    Gregg @ ADP Active Member

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    Its probably been 15 years since I’ve had a tank of my own.

    But once we move, I might get moving on setting one up. It will be decent sized, but not massive...maybe 400-500 gal. There is a very specific layout I want, and that’s where the $$$ is going to come into it.

    This layout is going to allow for areas of very dense growth, but still have a lot of open water. I want a lot of fish as well.

    I know that I could split that into smaller tanks, but I just love the look of open water with coral growing out into it.

    (edit: just calculated the volume based on the dimensions I want- 498 gal. But there might be some modifications that will reduce that a little)
     
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  18. DangerDave

    DangerDave Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor NJRC Member

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    I have multiple tanks plumbed together. So monitoring and maintenance is done across the board. If I they were separate, I wouldn’t have time to care for them.
     
  19. maroun.c

    maroun.c Moderator Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 Article Contributor

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    I've had multiple small tanks, medium size single tank and now have on large tank with 4 connected smaller tanks (largest is a 400 G and smallest is a 23g Nano cube) . I also run a separate 90 G tank.
    They all have they're charm, struggles and happy times. I have a weak point for small cubes, believe they fill up quicker and get this mature look way earlier. Yet they're terribly unforgiving with the smallest mishap.
    Larger tanks are of course nice and many are after the largest they can fit, yet as forgiving and they seem mishaps cost a lot to fix and they have their own challenges. They can quickly become a burden of running cost and the effort to run a large tank aint taken into consideration.
    I'll take a healthy tank with nice colored fast growing corals and a mature look anyday regardless of size.
     
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  20. davocean

    davocean Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Squad R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor

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    Years ago I was given tanks and gear to beta test by a company, and next thing I knew I had 5 tanks in a one bedroom place!
    The cool side was I was able to keep different things that did not mix well in one tank, but i started to feel like I was looking like crazy cat lady except w/ fish!(and I'm a guy..)

    The down side is it was a lot of glass wiping and WC's, and I was limited to small tank fish only.

    I was happy to trade them all for one larger tank, and devote my time to making that one tank all it could be, and keep things that required space and swim room.
     
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