Beginning reef tank

Ashleyy

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Hey! I recently have been wanting to get into reef tanks and I’ve been doing research to try and find the best things to get but I’m still kind of lost. I want to get a 15-20g tank for mainly soft corals and zoas, but don’t know what lighting I should get or which dc pump would be best for a 20g tank. Also I’m confused about water quality and what kits should I get to test everything and when should I test for. Again I’m really new at this and just want to learn more about everything so I don’t mess up. Thank you!!
 

Tihsho

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Hello, and welcome to R2R!

Just to make things easier, have you ever considered an All-In-One (AIO) tank? When it comes to return pumps, most tanks have ones decent enough to get you started and you can upgrade them to suit your needs down the line. As for lights, you're going to find a mix of options. For softies you can get away with almost anything on the market, from Chinese Black Box style lights, to consumer lights such as Kessil, AI, Current USA or Radion. If you want to not go LED, you'd also be fine with T5's. Right now the world is your oyster when it comes to options, so I can understand it being overwhelming.

If I were in your shoes, I'd go with an AIO tank and start with either Kessil or AI. The model and size will all depend on the floorprint dimensions of the tank you're looking to illuminate. If you're looking to light something with the floorprint of a 20 High (24"x12") I'd look at a single Kessil 160we or AI Prime HD. If you were looking at something with the floorprint of a 20 Long (30"x12") I'd consider doubling up the lights. Regardless with softies they are very forgiving.

If you're looking for something to hit the ground running, look into the Innovative Marine (IM) tanks. Bulk Reef Supply and Marine Depot as well as many other retailers carry them and they are bundled with a lot of the things you will need minus the lights. There are other companies as well, but my main experience with AIO's are limited to IM, Cobalt Aquatics, and Current USA. More recently IM and Cobalt Aquatics are my go to tanks, but I believe the Cobalt AIO's may be discontinued.
 

Peace River

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Ashleyy

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Hello, and welcome to R2R!

Just to make things easier, have you ever considered an All-In-One (AIO) tank? When it comes to return pumps, most tanks have ones decent enough to get you started and you can upgrade them to suit your needs down the line. As for lights, you're going to find a mix of options. For softies you can get away with almost anything on the market, from Chinese Black Box style lights, to consumer lights such as Kessil, AI, Current USA or Radion. If you want to not go LED, you'd also be fine with T5's. Right now the world is your oyster when it comes to options, so I can understand it being overwhelming.

If I were in your shoes, I'd go with an AIO tank and start with either Kessil or AI. The model and size will all depend on the floorprint dimensions of the tank you're looking to illuminate. If you're looking to light something with the floorprint of a 20 High (24"x12") I'd look at a single Kessil 160we or AI Prime HD. If you were looking at something with the floorprint of a 20 Long (30"x12") I'd consider doubling up the lights. Regardless with softies they are very forgiving.

If you're looking for something to hit the ground running, look into the Innovative Marine (IM) tanks. Bulk Reef Supply and Marine Depot as well as many other retailers carry them and they are bundled with a lot of the things you will need minus the lights. There are other companies as well, but my main experience with AIO's are limited to IM, Cobalt Aquatics, and Current USA. More recently IM and Cobalt Aquatics are my go to tanks, but I believe the Cobalt AIO's may be discontinued.
I have been looking into AIO tanks, the only thing I had trouble on was the lighting, this is very helpful and I appreciate you taking the time to reply!!
 

Tihsho

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I have been looking into AIO tanks, the only thing I had trouble on was the lighting, this is very helpful and I appreciate you taking the time to reply!!
Not a problem, we all start somewhere. When I got back into the hobby it was when LED's took over from the Metal Halide and Power Compact days. I was just as lost with all the options as well. What I would do is figure out what tank you want first, then you can narrow the light down easier. Personally, I'm a big fan of Kessil, their products are top notch, affordable and the light is stunning. You will read reviews about other LED's giving off a disco ball effect, and this is something that Kessil doesn't do as their LED's are on a single chip which then has the light spread by a single optic. AI Prime HD's are cheap and a simple choice, but they give off the discoball look on the sand and rock. There are companies that sell diffusers to fix this, but in the long run you lose PAR everytime you put a layer of something in between the light and the waters surface, so I avoid them. I'm actually in the process of trying out AI Hydra 26 HD's on my new setup as I wanted to compare growth on my Kessil tank vs what is about to be my AI tank.

Welcome! No real good advice, save what’s already been told.

I do believe the light you get would be really dependent on which tank you went with.
Exactly, the tank size will make a difference.
 

SoggyNW

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Welcome to R2R. A ballpark budget would be helpful. For that size thank you can spend a little of a LOT. It all depends on what features you want and how much you are comfortable spending.

For that size tank I would personally be looking at the AI Prime HD.
 
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Ashleyy

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Not a problem, we all start somewhere. When I got back into the hobby it was when LED's took over from the Metal Halide and Power Compact days. I was just as lost with all the options as well. What I would do is figure out what tank you want first, then you can narrow the light down easier. Personally, I'm a big fan of Kessil, their products are top notch, affordable and the light is stunning. You will read reviews about other LED's giving off a disco ball effect, and this is something that Kessil doesn't do as their LED's are on a single chip which then has the light spread by a single optic. AI Prime HD's are cheap and a simple choice, but they give off the discoball look on the sand and rock. There are companies that sell diffusers to fix this, but in the long run you lose PAR everytime you put a layer of something in between the light and the waters surface, so I avoid them. I'm actually in the process of trying out AI Hydra 26 HD's on my new setup as I wanted to compare growth on my Kessil tank vs what is about to be my AI tank.



Exactly, the tank size will make a difference.
I was thinking about getting a cube 20 from waterbox, 17.7”L, x 17.7”W, x 15.8”H
 
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Tihsho

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If that's the case you could get away with a single Kessil 160we or a single AI Prime HD. If you want to plan for growth into LPS or SPS, you can just start off with a single Kessil 360we or single AI Hydra 26 and just set the output lower until you get into higher PAR required corals. At that point the light will not need to be replaced as it is just a configuration update.
 
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Ashleyy

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If that's the case you could get away with a single Kessil 160we or a single AI Prime HD. If you want to plan for growth into LPS or SPS, you can just start off with a single Kessil 360we or single AI Hydra 26 and just set the output lower until you get into higher PAR required corals. At that point the light will not need to be replaced as it is just a configuration update.
Awesome!! Thank you for the help!!
 

blasterman

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Square tanks are inherently easier to light than longer, rectangular tanks. For bang per buck nothing beats the price of a standard 15gal or 20 long which can often be had for $30 or less from local pet stores. For bonus points just rip the top frame off for a rimless look. A 20 long though is a pain to light uniformly unless you have two lights.

Square tanks also require you to layer / strata corals with rocks , otherwise you are hiding corals behind corals. With long, narrow tanks like the popular Aquamax / Mr. Aqua 12 gallon you can line corals up in a row and be done with it. All depends on the look you want.
 
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Ashleyy

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Square tanks are inherently easier to light than longer, rectangular tanks. For bang per buck nothing beats the price of a standard 15gal or 20 long which can often be had for $30 or less from local pet stores. For bonus points just rip the top frame off for a rimless look. A 20 long though is a pain to light uniformly unless you have two lights.

Square tanks also require you to layer / strata corals with rocks , otherwise you are hiding corals behind corals. With long, narrow tanks like the popular Aquamax / Mr. Aqua 12 gallon you can line corals up in a row and be done with it. All depends on the look you want.
This is very helpful!! Thank you so much!!
 

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