Deciding if I want to take the plunge

simplicity

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Hey guys,

I’ve been out of the fish game for a decade. My last aquarium was a 55 gallon African cichlid tank, which I never had any problems with.

The saltwater tank world is completely different, I know. I have been researching aquariums/systems for months now. Looking at the Red Sea Reefer 350, for example. I want something in the 75 - 150 gallon range.

What keeps holding me back is hearing guys online or in YouTube vids iterate how frequently they service their aquarium. I just don’t have the time to mess with the system every 3 days. Besides feeding, ideally, I would only want to spend an hour every week, at most. I know there are systems that would allow me to automate many of the water parameters, water top off, lighting, and water flow.

For you more experienced saltwater aquarium guys, is it realistic to build a system that would require minimum maintenance and allow me to leave the tank unattended for weeks at a time? I have family overseas, so this is important. I could have someone come in once a week, if needed. I just don’t want to dig myself in a hole with this hobby and have an anchor on my leg… it’s a reason why I don’t have any pets at the moment. I appreciate any experience and wisdom you could provide…
 
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock

Spare time

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Using auto dosers and auto top offs would allow it to work, as well as a refugium with a proper light. In this scenario, you would feed daily and that's it (you might be able to get away with an auto feeder if everything eats the dry food). A filter floss roller could be helpful too since I am guessing you probably won't want to swap out socks every other day. Testing is the only thing you really can't get around except for a few things that you can get a trident system for. However, all of that will be very expensive.

In reality, this is an interactive hobby and you are keeping things that can't just be left on their own for weeks at a time. Even if you fully automated everything (which is ridiculously expensive and will be confusing for someone who has never kept saltwater or reefs), it is irresponsible to leave it on its own for weeks at a time.


Personally, I would not do it if I were you.
 

CanuckReefer

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Hey guys,

I’ve been out of the fish game for a decade. My last aquarium was a 55 gallon African cichlid tank, which I never had any problems with.

The saltwater tank world is completely different, I know. I have been researching aquariums/systems for months now. Looking at the Red Sea Reefer 350, for example. I want something in the 75 - 150 gallon range.

What keeps holding me back is hearing guys online or in YouTube vids iterate how frequently they service their aquarium. I just don’t have the time to mess with the system every 3 days. Besides feeding, ideally, I would only want to spend an hour every week, at most. I know there are systems that would allow me to automate many of the water parameters, water top off, lighting, and water flow.

For you more experienced saltwater aquarium guys, is it realistic to build a system that would require minimum maintenance and allow me to leave the tank unattended for weeks at a time? I have family overseas, so this is important. I could have someone come in once a week, if needed. I just don’t want to dig myself in a hole with this hobby and have an anchor on my leg… it’s a reason why I don’t have any pets at the moment. I appreciate any experience and wisdom you could provide…
Eh.....well weeks at a time with a caretaker once a week? Nah, I wouldn't. If I am away (9-10 days max) my tank is managed by a couple neighbors who know the drill. I wouldn't go beyond that. As for maintenance on the system, I do about an hour a week interspersed, every 3 days. Tank is established though 25 years. I give you credit for asking the questions. I just don't know if its right for you based on the stipulations listed unfortunately....
 

PeterC99

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Welcome to R2R!

You can make your saltwater aquarium as simple or complex as you want. Many decisions are up to you.

Have a 90g with Apex Trident, auto ATO, AWC, & RODI, and CARX reactor. Weekly maintenance is still about 1 1/2 hours.
 
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gbroadbridge

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Hey guys,

I’ve been out of the fish game for a decade. My last aquarium was a 55 gallon African cichlid tank, which I never had any problems with.

The saltwater tank world is completely different, I know. I have been researching aquariums/systems for months now. Looking at the Red Sea Reefer 350, for example. I want something in the 75 - 150 gallon range.

What keeps holding me back is hearing guys online or in YouTube vids iterate how frequently they service their aquarium. I just don’t have the time to mess with the system every 3 days. Besides feeding, ideally, I would only want to spend an hour every week, at most. I know there are systems that would allow me to automate many of the water parameters, water top off, lighting, and water flow.

For you more experienced saltwater aquarium guys, is it realistic to build a system that would require minimum maintenance and allow me to leave the tank unattended for weeks at a time? I have family overseas, so this is important. I could have someone come in once a week, if needed. I just don’t want to dig myself in a hole with this hobby and have an anchor on my leg… it’s a reason why I don’t have any pets at the moment. I appreciate any experience and wisdom you could provide…

Unfortunately reef tanks, and even FOWLR marine tanks are not like that.

For the first 12 months it can be pretty much full on.

After that, with a fair amount of automation, you can normally get away with an hour or two week, BUT there, are always going to be spot fires to kill before they turn into wildfires :)

I've gone away for 2 1/2 weeks successfully, but it was a stressed out vacation.

Next trip, I'll use a pro service which I trust to remote monitor and come out a couple of times a week to keep an eye on things.
 

Rmckoy

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First off .
welcome to the salty side .
I can use my system for a example in terms of maintenance .

even though a little bigger than your expectation .
mine is a 230 gal with a 40 gal sump .
external skimmer , t5 lighting .
I have a ato

in terms of maintenance . I only do water changes once per month .
I have to make about 15-20 gal of water per week for ato but that’s it .
I test the main parameters ( alk , cal , salinity , and mag ) every other day and dose only alk to maintain 7.5dkh
I am ready to set up a dosing pump but I enjoy testing and manually dosing .

that’s it ….
lights come on and off with a timer ,
Clean skimmer cup once per week

feel free to ask any questions you might have .

most important thing to always remember .
1) never dose anything you haven’t tested the need for .
2) for every action you do to the system , give it time to adjust and settle before trying something else
3) take your time !!!! With everything from setup to stocking .
nothing good happens fast in reef keeping

4) it’s a hobby … build it to enjoy it .
The journey is rewarding even with a few challenges along the way
 

Dbichler

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With little maintenance you can get away with Fowlr or softies. I only did an hour once a week for the first year and I am down to an hour every 3 months besides the normal feeding and cleaning my protein skimmer which is 5 mins a week. Scrapping the glass also takes a couple minutes but you do that while watching the fish anyways.
 

Jmcg89

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Its very different than the freshwater tanks I had previously imo . I enjoy messing with my tank i guess you could say so I enjoy it. But i feel like full automation in saltwater comes with a much higher price tag and knowledge base than an automated freshwater system. I tried to ease into the saltwater side but ended up all in haha. Once you take the plunge you want to spend the time to make sure everything is happy and running smoothly. As much as I love it now i would actually advise agaisnt it if you want stress free time away for weeks at a time.
 
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hotdrop

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It’s 5k and maintenance every couple days. Think of it like year round gardening. If your go fish only is pretty simple except that fish quarantine is super complicated.
 

JumboShrimp

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FOWLR vs. Reef Tank... no comparison in terms of complexity. In my personal opinion, it’s pretty easy (relatively speaking) to get a FOWLR to autopilot within the first year— few or no water changes. (I have two 150-gallon FOWLR tanks that I pretty much do no water changes and I certainly avoid filter socks. Lol!) Now my 20-gallon AIO softies tank? Nightmare.
 

PICK the Most Tested & Least Tested Parameters of your Tank (Pick 2)

  • Calcium (most)

    Votes: 43 6.4%
  • Alkalinity (most)

    Votes: 468 70.1%
  • Magnesium (most)

    Votes: 5 0.7%
  • Phosphate (most)

    Votes: 59 8.8%
  • PH (most)

    Votes: 66 9.9%
  • Nitrate (most)

    Votes: 64 9.6%
  • Nitrite (most)

    Votes: 3 0.4%
  • Ammonia (most)

    Votes: 15 2.2%
  • (least) Calcium

    Votes: 9 1.3%
  • (least) Alkalinity

    Votes: 4 0.6%
  • (least) Magnesium

    Votes: 58 8.7%
  • (least) Phosphate

    Votes: 14 2.1%
  • (least) PH

    Votes: 35 5.2%
  • (least) Nitrate

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  • (least) Nitrite

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  • (least) Ammonia

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