First Tank/Equipment Recommendations

Kyle079

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Hello All,

I have wanted to get a Saltwater tank for a long time. Starting to put the pieces together in my head of a purchase list and needing some guidance.

Budget:
I want to spend no more than $2000 on the tank and equipment if possible. I would still like to stick to some budget or DIY options if possible.

Tank:
I have been looking into getting a 40 breeder as this seems to be a good starting point and would work well for the space I have in mind. I like the idea of a rimless 40 breeder, but have not been able to find one. Seems a lot of tank companies have closed recently. Are they any tanks you would recommend that are rimless and and are a similar size to the 40? I don't want to get a cube.

Sump:
I was leaning towards a diy sump, either a 20 long with glass baffles or a diy custom acrylic. My next door neighbor has a industrial sized laser cutter that he is willing to let me use. Are they are good plans for custom acrylic sumps that would fit under a ~ 36" tank? I have researched welding acrylic and it does not seem to be all too difficult, but is this something you all would recommend against?

Substrate/Rock:
Planning on going for a 1 inch sand bed and 30-40 lbs of rock in the display.

Lighting:
I plan to go for LPS and Softies to start off with. I don't see myself keeping SPS in this tank so lighting shouldn't be a huge issue. I don't want to spend an arm and a leg on lighting if I can get away with it. Are T5s still a good for LPS and Softies? I like the idea of LEDs due to being able to adjust the spectrum on the fly. Do people recommend a hybrid solution with T5s and LEDs or strictly one way or the other? What are some budget friendly LEDs that would still produce good light and have some customization?

Filtration:
Would running a algae skimmer be enough with some filter socks? I also saw someone had build a DIY roller filter that looked interesting I don't know if these work well or not.

Pumps:
What would be a decent return pump? I don't know how much I should be spending on one of these and what the advantages are from one to another.

Power heads:
I saw AI is releasing the Nero 3 powerheads. These look really interesting to me seem like a pretty good price for some "Smart" powerheads with wavemaker ability. Would it be worth picking up two of these?

Heater:
Planning on the Cobalt Aquatics 150W heater

Controller:
I was leaning towards more of a DIY route for this. Has anyone had any luck with the Robo-Tank? What about the Leviathan board? Or reef-pi? I have an IT background and enjoy tinkering with electronics projects, so this seems like a good fit to go the diy route.

Thank you for any help you can provide. If there is something other than what I have listed you recommend as a must have let me know!
 
Top Shelf Aquatics

T-J

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Welcome to R2R, and to the hobby!
Since most of your questions have already been answered in some fashion on the board, I'm going to do the next best thing and point you to this:
1600973122918.png

After doing some research, let us know of any outstanding questions you may have.
Again, welcome!
 

Oropher

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hi welcome to R2R

A. Tank
Yeah, get that rimless 40 breeder, don't settle with one with rim if you couldn't find a rimless one. A huge difference and you'll thank me later

B. Sump
Yep why not DIY, however acrylic sump is harder to make if you haven't done it before. A glass one would be lot easier. You can put on stickers to make it looks like an acrylic. Make as wide/big as possible.

C. Rock
The amount is good. Get a dry rock or man mad rock, takes longer to mature but a lot safer.

D. Filtration
Sock is good, easy to maintain. Roller is a luxury. Plan on getting a decent skimmer, no need to over size.

E. Return pump
Look for rated 10-20x of your total water volume. As for real turnover you maybe get less than 40% of the rated. DC pump you'll get a more flexibility to dial flow rate and a bit quiter. However AC pump like sicce could be as quite if properly maintained, and cheaper.

F. Power Heads
Nero is good but expensive. If you're planning on LPS and softies, two Atman RX40s are enough, cheaper than 1 nero.

G. Heater
Ok

H. Controller
Save your money on this.
You may need an auto top off and also to buy some test kits.
You can DIY auto top off with triple layer of protection (float switch, optical switch and pump timer) as your arduino project. We can chat directly if you want to build something else.

I. Lamp
There, we have saved some money to buy a decent light.
Yes 4 bulb of T5HOs can grow LPS/softies, but it's the heat and also yearly changing bulb.
AI prime would be good alternative or Noopsyche k7 pro ii (this one needs a separate controller)

J. Others
You may need a check valve for return line and also a gate valve for drain pipe (gate valve is not a necessity)
If there's some budget left you could add bioblocks like maxspect nano in sump low flow area.

Happy reefing
 
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Kyle079

Kyle079

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hi welcome to R2R

A. Tank
Yeah, get that rimless 40 breeder, don't settle with one with rim if you couldn't find a rimless one. A huge difference and you'll thank me later

B. Sump
Yep why not DIY, however acrylic sump is harder to make if you haven't done it before. A glass one would be lot easier. You can put on stickers to make it looks like an acrylic. Make as wide/big as possible.

C. Rock
The amount is good. Get a dry rock or man mad rock, takes longer to mature but a lot safer.

D. Filtration
Sock is good, easy to maintain. Roller is a luxury. Plan on getting a decent skimmer, no need to over size.

E. Return pump
Look for rated 10-20x of your total water volume. As for real turnover you maybe get less than 40% of the rated. DC pump you'll get a more flexibility to dial flow rate and a bit quiter. However AC pump like sicce could be as quite if properly maintained, and cheaper.

F. Power Heads
Nero is good but expensive. If you're planning on LPS and softies, two Atman RX40s are enough, cheaper than 1 nero.

G. Heater
Ok

H. Controller
Save your money on this.
You may need an auto top off and also to buy some test kits.
You can DIY auto top off with triple layer of protection (float switch, optical switch and pump timer) as your arduino project. We can chat directly if you want to build something else.

I. Lamp
There, we have saved some money to buy a decent light.
Yes 4 bulb of T5HOs can grow LPS/softies, but it's the heat and also yearly changing bulb.
AI prime would be good alternative or Noopsyche k7 pro ii (this one needs a separate controller)

J. Others
You may need a check valve for return line and also a gate valve for drain pipe (gate valve is not a necessity)
If there's some budget left you could add bioblocks like maxspect nano in sump low flow area.

Happy reefing


Oropher,

Thank you for taking the time to provide some feedback. It is very helpful! Last night I went ahead and order some dry rock from BRS (45 lbs of Reef Saver and 2 Medium Foundation Rocks), a Hydor 1500GP/H powerhead, 150 watt inexpensive heater and a Brute trashcan. Going to setup the dry rock to cure for the next month in the garage while I work on getting the other parts of the tank.
 

Tiki Reef Joshua

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My advice is to go cheaper on the actual tank and pay the premium for the equipment. Though I have starphire glass I don’t think it is nessesary. Particularly on a smaller tank. Even on my 100 I’m not sure how much difference it makes. I would DIY a decent tank. It’s going to be covered in rock and coral anyway. Also if the seams are sloppy you can touch them up or get creative with exterior trim etc.... get something with no scratches that holds water. Do a DIY sump as suggested or find one on Craigslist. If there is a reefing club near you join it. It will pay for itself in information and used equipment.

spend the real money on pumps and lights And a skimmer. 2000 is going to go faster than you think. It’s definitely doable but you are going to have to make compromises.Don’t forget stand, water making, livestock, test kits..... lots of incidentals.

IMO the actual tank is the place to save.
 
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T-J

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Oropher,

Thank you for taking the time to provide some feedback. It is very helpful! Last night I went ahead and order some dry rock from BRS (45 lbs of Reef Saver and 2 Medium Foundation Rocks), a Hydor 1500GP/H powerhead, 150 watt inexpensive heater and a Brute trashcan. Going to setup the dry rock to cure for the next month in the garage while I work on getting the other parts of the tank.
You don't cure dry live rock. Now, if you meant get the cycle going, that's something else. You can put it all in a garbage can, along with an ammonia source (shrimp method, ghost feeding, etc.) along with some bottle bacteria. Just make sure you treat it like you would your tank (topping off with fresh, monitoring params). Then, when you have your tank setup, you can transfer the cycled rock to the tank. You still may have a very small cycle in the tank, but should be good to go at that point.
 
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Kyle079

Kyle079

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You don't cure dry live rock. Now, if you meant get the cycle going, that's something else. You can put it all in a garbage can, along with an ammonia source (shrimp method, ghost feeding, etc.) along with some bottle bacteria. Just make sure you treat it like you would your tank (topping off with fresh, monitoring params). Then, when you have your tank setup, you can transfer the cycled rock to the tank. You still may have a very small cycle in the tank, but should be good to go at that point.

Yes that is what I meant, I am just working on getting the rock cycling in the trashcan since I don't have a tank yet. It might be a 1-2 months before I get the stand built and the tank so I want the rock to start cycling ahead of time.
 

ExpensiveSushi

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Welcome @Kyle079 - this is a terrific place to get help. Looks like you've started the purchase process but thought I'd share for perspective.

I went the AIO route (Biocube 32) to help me manage budget, or so I thought. In some ways it did - as I've not dropped more on fish or coral that i couldn't be able to support. But this hobby (coral) can quickly slice up the wallet $20 at a time...

I didn't have complete line of site on some things, like key backup equipment that could be useful in other ways (backup pump is the salt mixer, backup heater for water changes).

I knew LPS were going to be the max complexity i wanted to deal with so that would provide me with some guardrails as well.

I wanted to track my spend from startup. Here's my rollup after 6 months.

1601044547130.png


"Initial" category was a bundle deal: the AIO kit w/ lights, skimmer, return pump, dry rock, substrate, glass cleaner, coral glue, salt.

I haven't had much wasted spend - a couple of deaths, and only one or two pieces of equipment I won't use, so maybe $200.

Best way to stay to budget? Stay away from LFS and auctions :cool:

The advice around here of "research thoroughly and spend slowly" is so good to keep an entry hobbyist like me in the daily success column.

HTH,
E/S
 

PatW

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Get an auto top off. You can get an inexpensive one with pump from auto top off Dot com, For a reservoir, you can use a food grade bucket with lid. It will keep your salinity stable. Also, get an RODI unit. It will pay for itself pretty quickly. You will control your water quality, And you will not have to haul water from the LFS.
 

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