Best Tank for Beginner Reefer

Aleelupton

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Hi everyone!

I've been diving into the the world of reef keeping and need some advice for my first aquarium. My husband and I have been in the freshwater hobby professionally for 10+ years and have had one saltwater tank that housed sexy shrimp only, but we are ready to have a reef aquarium at home for our enjoyment. In this tank we plan to keep fish, inverts, and corals. The two tanks we are between are the Waterbox AIO 65.4 PLUS or the Red Sea Reefer Max 350 G2+. Researching and understanding all the equipment has been daunting so I like the idea of a setup that comes with the essential equipment included. The Waterbox tanks are beautiful and the AIO design is really nice to look at. The included equipment seems to be really nice as well. Both the pro and the con to this tank is that it does not have a sump. This makes it easier for a beginner to setup/understand, but it also limits the equipment I can add to it such as a refugium or roller mat. I could always add a HOB refugium, but I don't know if as I get further in the hobby I would eventually upgrade to a sump anyway. The Red Sea tank also seems to have really nice equipment and sump included. The pros to this tank are the fact that all the equipment is compatible and I can use an app to control basically all aspects of the tank. I have read about the leaks in first generation Red Sea models and have not seen any information as to if this is still a concern with current models available. Keeping in mind the included equipment and size/dimensions of these tanks, which option would be best as a beginner friendly setup, but also one that will work long term? Equipment we would like to add would include a Sicce UV C Clarifier, Dosing pump, Auto Water Change, and refugium. We would like to keep some or all of the fish on this list: Fisher's Angelfish, Black Cap Basslet, Lightening Maroon Clownfish, Blue Sapphire Damselfish, Pink Smith Damselfish, Tracey's Damselfish, Purple Dottyback, Springeri Dottyback, Whitespotted Pygmy Filefish, Yasha Hase Goby and Pistol shrimp, Bristletooth Tomini Tang, Yellow Banded Possum Wrasse, and two Marble Lyretail Mollys as well as a cleanup crew and coral. Are these tanks large enough for this potential stocking? Is the included equipment efficient for a long term successful reef tank? Which tank would you choose and what equipment would you swap out or add to these setups? Any and all advice/suggestions are so appreciated! Also, if you have a completely different tank option for us to look at we are open to that too!
 

JaaxReef

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I would check out innovative marine too. The EXT 112 Lagoon is a pretty nice tank with a deeper footprint for more aquascaping fun. Can get it with return pump, plumbing, and sump too for a pretty reasonable price. Heard good things about build quality. I think most of those fish would work in that size system or similar. Not familiar with the angel, but may be too large. Also watch out keeping multiple Dottybacks together unless they are more peaceful. They will absolutely kill eachother. I did have success with it with an indigo and an elongate in a 4 ft tank, but wouldn’t try it with a neon or strawberry for example. They are jerks.

 

NanoNana

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many fish don’t do well with others of their species. Dottybacks and damsels are notoriously aggressive towards their own species / similar sized fish and maroon clowns are also very aggressive fish towards anything including your hands. Lol
 

Magic031707

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If you mind me asking, are you serious about being in the hobby long term where you know there is a strong chance you will upgrade to a bigger tank? If so, I would say go big as you can that space and budget will allow you. IMO bigger is more stability and a big tank will almost warn you something is starting to drop, raise, die, etc. You have a little more time to react, if that makes sense. Maybe look into acrylic tanks. You will hear different opinions about them but ine they are good. I currently have 7ft, 255 gallon acrylic tank (custom built), sump, and stand for $6500. and I love it. Not saying you have to go this big, but It's lighter and I have no worry in the world that it will bust at the seams like glass. Yes, they can scratch easily but that is attention to detail. Happy Reefing! You will enjoy it!
 

kevgib67

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Welcome and glad you are here. You have both Corals.com and Tidal Gardens in your backyard. I’m your neighbor in Canfield. When you are ready hit me up and I’ll provide you with some free beginner corals free. I’m always available for questions. I’m constantly fragging birdsnest, monti cap and gsp.
097E6F65-E4C6-4B9A-9615-80EC7ABA4E3E.jpeg
 

paragrouper

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As the owner of an AIO, I would recommend a sump based system. It simply opens up more options for various items (protein skimmers, refugium, etc.) without having said equipment hanging off the back of your tank.

I ended up building a canopy for mine, just to hide my skimmer and HOB refugium from sight.

IMG_2912.jpeg
 
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Aleelupton

Aleelupton

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I would check out innovative marine too. The EXT 112 Lagoon is a pretty nice tank with a deeper footprint for more aquascaping fun. Can get it with return pump, plumbing, and sump too for a pretty reasonable price. Heard good things about build quality. I think most of those fish would work in that size system or similar. Not familiar with the angel, but may be too large. Also watch out keeping multiple Dottybacks together unless they are more peaceful. They will absolutely kill eachother. I did have success with it with an indigo and an elongate in a 4 ft tank, but wouldn’t try it with a neon or strawberry for example. They are jerks.

I will definitely check out the Innovative Marine tank! The angelfish is the smallest species of angelfish I could find that is in the aquarium hobby. It maxes out at 2 inches and is described as peaceful and reef safe. Both the Dottybacks we like are listed as semi-aggressive, max of 3 inches in length, and 30 gallon tank requirement. I was hoping if we introduced them at the same time when they were small they would find their own areas of the tanks and leave each other alone. I didn't see much that says that they are overly aggressive towards other Dottybacks, but to use caution housing them together and to make sure they have enough space. I'll research more before we add any fish and maybe just add the Springeri since the Purple Dottyback looks similar to the Black Cap Basslet we like. I just looked at the Reefer Max S series that has deeper and wider dimensions. I'm not sure we want a tank that large, but the footprint would be better suited for the fish.
 
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Aleelupton

Aleelupton

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many fish don’t do well with others of their species. Dottybacks and damsels are notoriously aggressive towards their own species / similar sized fish and maroon clowns are also very aggressive fish towards anything including your hands. Lol
I did read about the Maroon clowns aggression. It seemed like it was more towards humans and other clowns than other species of fish. The damsels I picked were either listed as peaceful or being able to be kept in groups (pink smith). The other damsel was quite a bit smaller than the other two. Both the Dottybacks we like are listed as semi-aggressive, max of 3 inches in length, and 30 gallon tank requirement. I was thinking I could add the fish of the same species at the same time when they are small and hopefully that would help. I'm going to keep researching these fish before I decide.
 
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Aleelupton

Aleelupton

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If you mind me asking, are you serious about being in the hobby long term where you know there is a strong chance you will upgrade to a bigger tank? If so, I would say go big as you can that space and budget will allow you. IMO bigger is more stability and a big tank will almost warn you something is starting to drop, raise, die, etc. You have a little more time to react, if that makes sense. Maybe look into acrylic tanks. You will hear different opinions about them but ine they are good. I currently have 7ft, 255 gallon acrylic tank (custom built), sump, and stand for $6500. and I love it. Not saying you have to go this big, but It's lighter and I have no worry in the world that it will bust at the seams like glass. Yes, they can scratch easily but that is attention to detail. Happy Reefing! You will enjoy it!
We will definitely be in the freshwater hobby professionally for a long time so I hope we enjoy the saltwater side as a hobby at home at the same time. I don't want too large of a tank at our house so I was hoping to stick between 65 and 100 gallons. We have several large (480+) acrylic tanks at our warehouse and we really like them, but they do scratch easily.
 
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Aleelupton

Aleelupton

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Welcome and glad you are here. You have both Corals.com and Tidal Gardens in your backyard. I’m your neighbor in Canfield. When you are ready hit me up and I’ll provide you with some free beginner corals free. I’m always available for questions. I’m constantly fragging birdsnest, monti cap and gsp.
097E6F65-E4C6-4B9A-9615-80EC7ABA4E3E.jpeg
Thank you so much! We are good friends with Than at Tidal Gardens and recently went to visit him. This is what sparked my desire to have a saltwater tank again. We are moving this year so we aren't going to set up our tank until we are in our new house. Once we do I will definitely reach out :)
 
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Aleelupton

Aleelupton

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As the owner of an AIO, I would recommend a sump based system. It simply opens up more options for various items (protein skimmers, refugium, etc.) without having said equipment hanging off the back of your tank.

I ended up building a canopy for mine, just to hide my skimmer and HOB refugium from sight.

IMG_2912.jpeg
Your tank looks great! That is good advice. Is that a Goldendoodle? We have three! We also love birds!
 

TangerineSpeedo

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I would check out innovative marine too. The EXT 112 Lagoon is a pretty nice tank with a deeper footprint for more aquascaping fun. Can get it with return pump, plumbing, and sump too for a pretty reasonable price. Heard good things about build quality. I think most of those fish would work in that size system or similar. Not familiar with the angel, but may be too large. Also watch out keeping multiple Dottybacks together unless they are more peaceful. They will absolutely kill eachother. I did have success with it with an indigo and an elongate in a 4 ft tank, but wouldn’t try it with a neon or strawberry for example. They are jerks.

I have seen this tank in person at the IM showroom. It is really nice. I have three IM tanks and one Red Sea. Not happy with the red sea compared to the IM's
 

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