Cheap 20 gallon reef tank?

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N103

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Ok, is there fish in there too? Will need to re home those.

Drain and clean tank with vinegar. Clean and soak your filter with vinegar too. Tank is Ready to go reefing!

As mentioned, will need Rock that is suitable for a reef. Live or dry. Live is better.

Do you want sand? Freshwater gravel is not advisable.
Yea, this setup will be considered for the feature, I am keeping it fw rn but in 5 months I might go reefing, i am thinking of removing all the gravel then putting sand and live rock, so what sand and rock should I use???
 
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jarviz

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Absolutely. I have a 10 gallon i just started 3 months ago. I wish I could get more real estate but need more real life real estate first
 

jamesdomini4

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Consider the following options for rock and sand:

  • Live rock + live sand - The best combo. Look up KP aquatics or Tampa bay saltwater for live rock. Caribsea ocean direct for live sand (caribsea arag-alive contains freshwater bacteria and is not all that superior to dry sand).
  • Dry rock + live sand - Expect a 4-month cycle with lights off. This is a good combo that can save you a lot of money. You can substitute live sand with any seeded media.
  • Dry rock + dry sand - It takes a long time to cycle. Not beginner-friendly
  • Bare bottom - Don't do it with dry rock. Various bare bottom tanks on the forum that started with dry rock cannot sustain corals even after two years (mine included). Most successful bare bottom tanks either started with live rock, or the reefer has crazy high levels of luck or expertise (I think more luck).
Hope this helps. Please feel free to ask more questions. I started by converting a planted tank into a reef in June 2020.
 

Bribo12

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I think I have $1000 in fish and corals in my 20 gallon... lol

however, you can get easy cheap corals that are still colorful! You’ll definitely have to rehome all your fw stock and then drain and give it a good vinegar scrubbing down before resetting it up as sw.
 
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nursebran

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Which sand and live rock do you recommend, also what is the best way to change the filter from fresh to salt???
My sand was arag alive... the kind that is wet/sea water...
for rock... that alone will kill your budget...
If you are lucky enough to know someone that could give you a piece.
Mine came from ARC reef store.. it’s a conservation center/Miami...
it’s the real thing... it was a lot (IMO)
But, I have bigger tanks/ not, huge ... 75g and 100g. But, 1 piece was between $150-$250. I’m just being honest...
For filtration sand/live rock help (possibly) no filter. But, since you have the filter... clean with vinegar, buy new media... and, go bare bottom or sand, NOT gravel. No matter what... you will have to let your tank cycle. The sand is a good start (it’s $20-$25 for a bag/wet kind)
I would wait on rock (only because of tight budget)
I can’t help on changing from freshwater to saltwater/ I’ve only had salt/marine/reef tanks. I know you would need to clean it well... definitely, get advice (on here) or from people who have experience, and (successfully) switched. Sand vs bare bottom has pros and cons for both. Sand (live/wet kind) can help with biological filtration, some people think bare is easier to clean. Or, personal preference. Do, let your tank cycle before adding livestock. 4-6 wks. It has to go through that and the ugly phases of algae blooms. It’s just part of it. But, it could buy you some time.. to get supplies, equipment, lights, etc. Also, I might should have said this earlier.... I don’t want to discourage you. I love this hobby. You may want to research everything and then decide whether you want to do this. It’s not easy....IMO... it’s expensive and lots of learning, setbacks, along the way. It’s a lot of work, sometimes, it’s like cracking a hidden code kinda’ hard. On the other hand, when it finally goes right....healthy/disease free, beautiful fish. Or, your baby frag starts to grow (you celebrate 2 polyps!) And, you get hooked! That’s so awesome! I’m just saying.... it’s not for everyone... go slow... if nothing sidelines you... it could be the hobby of your dreams. It’s ok to take some time to decide, especially, before you break the bank. Lol Good luck! If I can do this, anything is possible!
 
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N103

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My sand was arag alive... the kind that is wet/sea water...
for rock... that alone will kill your budget...
If you are lucky enough to know someone that could give you a piece.
Mine came from ARC reef store.. it’s a conservation center/Miami...
it’s the real thing... it was a lot (IMO)
But, I have bigger tanks/ not, huge ... 75g and 100g. But, 1 piece was between $150-$250. I’m just being honest...
For filtration sand/live rock help (possibly) no filter. But, since you have the filter... clean with vinegar, buy new media... and, go bare bottom or sand, NOT gravel. No matter what... you will have to let your tank cycle. The sand is a good start (it’s $20-$25 for a bag/wet kind)
I would wait on rock (only because of tight budget)
I can’t help on changing from freshwater to saltwater/ I’ve only had salt/marine/reef tanks. I know you would need to clean it well... definitely, get advice (on here) or from people who have experience, and (successfully) switched. Sand vs bare bottom has pros and cons for both. Sand (live/wet kind) can help with biological filtration, some people think bare is easier to clean. Or, personal preference. Do, let your tank cycle before adding livestock. 4-6 wks. It has to go through that and the ugly phases of algae blooms. It’s just part of it. But, it could buy you some time.. to get supplies, equipment, lights, etc. Also, I might should have said this earlier.... I don’t want to discourage you. I love this hobby. You may want to research everything and then decide whether you want to do this. It’s not easy....IMO... it’s expensive and lots of learning, setbacks, along the way. It’s a lot of work, sometimes, it’s like cracking a hidden code kinda’ hard. On the other hand, when it finally goes right....healthy/disease free, beautiful fish. Or, your baby frag starts to grow (you celebrate 2 polyps!) And, you get hooked! That’s so awesome! I’m just saying.... it’s not for everyone... go slow... if nothing sidelines you... it could be the hobby of your dreams. It’s ok to take some time to decide, especially, before you break the bank. Lol Good luck! If I can do this, anything is possible!
Thanks so much!
 

jamesdomini4

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Here is a list of items I bought for my 29g with 10g sump tank. This should give you an idea of what you need and what you don't.

I made a lot of mistakes while buying equipment and could have saved at least $400 if I knew what to buy. lol. You can see them as sold and how much lost in the transaction or repeat items for the same purpose.
 

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nursebran

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Thanks so much!
No problem! It’s a lot of fun! But, don’t ask me how I feel, on water change day... lol! Ughh! Yucky! Gross!
I guess, you already know the gross part, from having freshwater. I would be lost with freshwater. Sticking with reefing, love my corals! So many people on here will help you along the way. I’ve only had good experiences on here! Don’t be afraid to ask. At first, I was scared to say anything.
The big beautiful reef tanks, rare fish, 180+ gallon size tanks... can be quite intimidating. I’ve been doing this a while but, mine don’t look like that! It’s a work in progress. Lots of great people, on here! Time for work! Happy reefing!
 

Pkunk35

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Which sand and live rock do you recommend, also what is the best way to change the filter from fresh to salt???


All great advice so far!

seek out LFS for cherry picking live rock although becoming more rare these days.

Also, you don’t need a huge amount of it, especially if lightly stocking a 20g. So don’t overbuy LR and blow the budget (and real estate inside the tank)

I’ve always thought some of the best quality live sand that one could actually buy came from garf (grunge) but you don’t need to start with live sand especially if you have live rock. If you start with this stuff tho I wonder if dry rock starts actually become easier:

https://www.garf.org/!paypal2010/Store.html

Certainly diversity is better If adding this so will greatly help. FYI a little goes a LONG way if you happen to use live sand, you don’t have to fill everything with “live sand”. A mix of dry/live rock/sand will eventually seed everything but greater diversity of life does seem to make starts much easier.

One last piece of advice is that small tanks are a pain to keep salinity stable so please keep this in mind bc this is so different than freshwater (have to replace freshwater Daily to keep salinity stable). Lots of ways to do it but really have to keep it in mind for such a small tank.
GL!
 

MarcStu

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I lucked out and got a FREE biocube. Look for used equipment and tanks. You can luck out. Usually only takes a couple hours of cleanup and TLC to make a used tank look brand new. Also got my Radion XR30 g3 for $150 so that helped a lot too!!
 

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Aqua Man

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Yea, this setup will be considered for the feature, I am keeping it fw rn but in 5 months I might go reefing, i am thinking of removing all the gravel then putting sand and live rock, so what sand and rock should I use???
Not sure where on Earth you are located. Lol... Petco or pet smart has sand that usually pretty good deal. Whatever sand you choose, rinse it very well. Then rinse it more! Even if it’s live sand in a bag, rinse it till runs clear.

Rock, lots of choices depending where you are located.
 

zalick

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You absolutely can do it. EASY. You don't need a hang on back filter either. I ran a 20 long around 20 years ago and kept soft corals, LPS and a clam and that setup today, not including the clam, was easily $300 or less.

I'm currently using a 20g for a frag tank and it's equipment would be $300 or less if I used a cheaper light.

You are going to have soft corals, so heavy flow isn't needed. One koralia nano 425 is probably fine or 2. Could do 2 koralia 240 instead. Back corners pointed forwards towards middle. $64

50w heater $20 - Eheim jager

Piece of live rock from your LFS to seed the tank $15 - find rest on craigslist. Or get 10 lbs from petsmart online $20


Aquatic life ro buddie 50g - $50

Light - find something used on craigslist. T5 great option. Should be able to find something for $50

Sand - caribsea arag alive special grade 20lb - $28 shipped

Total: $247

The only equipment above that I think is suspect is the aquatic life RO buddy. I've never used it and just found on Google. I ran a tank for years using tapwater filtered through a brita. So that RO should be better. :)
 

Alvaro_Spain

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zalick

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You absolutely can do it. EASY. You don't need a hang on back filter either. I ran a 20 long around 20 years ago and kept soft corals, LPS and a clam and that setup today, not including the clam, was easily $300 or less.

I'm currently using a 20g for a frag tank and it's equipment would be $300 or less if I used a cheaper light.

You are going to have soft corals, so heavy flow isn't needed. One koralia nano 425 is probably fine or 2. Could do 2 koralia 240 instead. Back corners pointed forwards towards middle. $64

50w heater $20 - Eheim jager

Piece of live rock from your LFS to seed the tank $15 - find rest on craigslist. Or get 10 lbs from petsmart online $20


Aquatic life ro buddie 50g - $50

Light - find something used on craigslist. T5 great option. Should be able to find something for $50

Sand - caribsea arag alive special grade 20lb - $28 shipped

Total: $247

The only equipment above that I think is suspect is the aquatic life RO buddy. I've never used it and just found on Google. I ran a tank for years using tapwater filtered through a brita. So that RO should be better. :)

I forgot a couple things:
Instant ocean salt - 50g - $12
Hydrometer - $9

Total: $268
 

wcroft987

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IMO I would watch FB market place and offerup to find what you are looking for on the cheap. I am always finding great deals there. Never know maybe you can find a full tank someone what’s to get rid of for your budget and keep your fresh water.
 

anthonygf

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All good options from everyone here. I have one you may like. When you do start, get some live sand and couple pieces of live rock, Mollies acclimate well to salt, start with them first they can handle the cycle better. I did this when I changed my 46 bow from fresh to salt, never had a cycle. But it may be different for you so start with mollies for a month. If the nitrate builds up and you have no ammonia then it is safe to add your clowns, when you do add new fish get more live rock to help with the extra bioload. Try GSP first and let them grow. You may just like what you see.

The first pic is my 46 when it was fresh, second is a year after changing to salt, the third is maybe 3 years later just before upgrading to 75. Good luck with yours, you will be fine, start slow. You do not need the light that I have on there just yet.
 

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