First time Aquarist here -- Looking at pre made (Red Reefer 350) vs custom acrylic tank help me decide?

socool111

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OK new user here. I'm new to this hobby, new to everything. Hopefully will be an active member in the community in the coming months!

So I am working with a local, very reputable shop and got some advice, feedback quotes etc. I just want to broaden the conversation to see what a community of experts think to do full due diligence.

My wife and I don't like to half-butt stuff. When I was looking into this as a hobby, I wanted to go full blown deep end: no freshwater, go straight to saltwater, live reef etc. What's the point of an expensive hard hobby if you can't have all the colors of a reef tank! But I digress from my question...

The big debate in my household is that we wanted the aquarium to fit with our aesthetic. Once my wife decided that she wanted the tank in the open living room instead of just in my office, then the aesthetic appeal of the tank itself entered the conversation.

She hated the look of the Red Reefer 350 Q2 cabinet and lights (with how they suspend over the tank). So we actually have a friend who is an amazing woodworker. He is going to build a cabinet with a top to it. Something like this (but smaller):
1718021005424.png


So after going back to the store we worked with. They told us that to do something like this you really can't use the Red Reefer, and instead have to order a custom acrylic tank (or rather, if you are getting an acrylic tank, you might as well order it custom to fit the exact space).

We got a quote for a Red Reefer 350 Q2, 90 gallon tank (71 "active" gallons) for around 8500 (this includes everything to get us started: installation, gravel, salt water, live rock, hydrometer etc. etc.). 6800 was the price + tax + $800 home installation cost. We have yet to get a quote for the acrylic.

1) Was the estimate pretty standard (I can see from the red reefer site they did not upcharge the cost of the aquarium)? From what I can tell it's fair pricing (don't even try and suggest we install it ourself, I am hopeless at that stuff).

2) Would you agree that to get a good aestetic feel we would need to go with an acrylic instead of a pre-manufactured tank? That we can't somehow repanel a pre made or soemthing?

3) What do you think a custom tank will come out to (without the wood work)? It's going to be 37x17x24, with two sides not being clear (as they are up against walls).

4) How crazy are we? :D
 

exnisstech

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JMO I would not jump off the deep end and dump that much money in my first tank. I would get something smaller or used and get it up and running to see if this hobby is fur you. It's not as easy as many people on YouTube and other media platforms make it sound sometimes. Once you master keeping a tank and live stock healthy and you want a nice big tank go for it and you can move everything from the first tank to the new showcase. This is all assuming you are setting up and doing maintenance yourself. If your having someone else set up and maintain the system I say get what you want the first time. I've never done that personally. Not sure about pricing. I bought a reefer 300 g2 in Feb 2023 and paid $2099 otd.
 
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Timfish

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If you know a cabinet builder that will do custom stand and cabinet to fit your aesthetic I would go with a standard size glass reef ready tank. It will be a lot easier to keep clean than an acrylic tank.
 
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socool111

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JMO I would not jump off the deep end and dump that much money in my first tank. I would get something smaller or used and get it up and running to see if this hobby is fur you. It's not as easy as many people on YouTube and other media platforms make it sound sometimes. Once you master keeping a tank and live stock healthy and you want a nice big tank go for it and you can move everything from the first tank to the new showcase. This is all assuming you are setting up and doing maintenance yourself. If your having someone else set up and maintain the system I say get what you want the first time. I've never done that personally. Not sure about pricing. I bought a reefer 300 g2 in Feb 2023 and paid $2099 otd.
So the shop we work with does home maintenance. My plan is to have them come weekly and I will learn the trade and the work from their guy. Slowly I will take on the work myself (with them supervising) and eventually do it myself and have them come monthly for broader maintenance.
 
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socool111

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If you know a cabinet builder that will do custom stand and cabinet to fit your aesthetic I would go with a standard size glass reef ready tank. It will be a lot easier to keep clean than an acrylic tank.

Is acrylic much harder? My understanding is that its easier to scratch. As I mentioned above, we also plan to have the tank maintenance weekly until I can get the experience and knowledge to do it myself.
 
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Is acrylic much harder? My understanding is that its easier to scratch. As I mentioned above, we also plan to have the tank maintenance weekly until I can get the experience and knowledge to do it myself.

That's exactly it. Sooner or later coraline algae will start to grow and it will take a lot more time and elbow grease to keep an acrylic tank clean without scratching it than a glass tank.
 
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Vinaka_vakalevu

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take a look at the innovative marine tanks, something like this may work well for you.




have your friend build you the canopy you like. take the difference in cost and put it into things like real live rock from TBsaltwater, a good skimmer, good lights etc.
 
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Tamberav

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I do not find acrylic harder to clean if you get the right tools. You need to do it often though as you don’t want coralline or algae to build up. It’s easy though.


I would absolutely not hire maintenance or set up. They will never care about that tank as much as you do. Seen too many tanks that look like crap for paying someone to do a water change and run some simple tests.

The amazing tanks you see are not run by maintenance places most of the time.

Are they doing live or dry rock? Do they fully QT fish? Are they going to QT and have the fish for 4-6 weeks before it even touches your tank? What do they do to QT? Just observation or do they use medication? What medications and at what dose? What kind of guarantee do they have since I am paying them? I would be asking these questions. Fish in a new set up is just asking for death if they are not properly handled and plenty of LFS set up tanks and add fish from their store only for them to die.
 
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Tamberav

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If it helps, I am paying $1375 for 72x24x20 acrylic tank

You can have custom glass tanks made as well. Shop around. If it is a smaller tank, I would do glass, larger I like acrylic for durability and no water on the floor from a popped seam.

You also want to be asking what type of overflow and return pump they are using, I am sure you want it to be close to silent to keep a happy wife.
 
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socool111

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I do not find acrylic harder to clean if you get the right tools. You need to do it often though as you don’t want coralline or algae to build up. It’s easy though.


I would absolutely not hire maintenance or set up. They will never care about that tank as much as you do. Seen too many tanks that look like crap for paying someone to do a water change and run some simple tests.

The amazing tanks you see are not run by maintenance places most of the time.

Are they doing live or dry rock? Do they fully QT fish? Are they going to QT and have the fish for 4-6 weeks before it even touches your tank? What do they do to QT? Just observation or do they use medication? What medications and at what dose? What kind of guarantee do they have since I am paying them? I would be asking these questions. Fish in a new set up is just asking for death if they are not properly handled and plenty of LFS set up tanks and add fish from their store only for them to die.
These are great questions! We are doing live rock. The place we work with seem very knowledgable and have already said that we need to w tank for a week before we introduce anything. After a week to start with clownfish and then go from there.
 
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socool111

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If it helps, I am paying $1375 for 72x24x20 acrylic tank

You can have custom glass tanks made as well. Shop around. If it is a smaller tank, I would do glass, larger I like acrylic for durability and no water on the floor from a popped seam.

You also want to be asking what type of overflow and return pump they are using, I am sure you want it to be close to silent to keep a happy wife.
They ended up quoting us $800 for the acrylic tank of the dimensions i mentioned (w/ 200-300 dollar shipping fee)
 
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littlefoxx

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OK new user here. I'm new to this hobby, new to everything. Hopefully will be an active member in the community in the coming months!

So I am working with a local, very reputable shop and got some advice, feedback quotes etc. I just want to broaden the conversation to see what a community of experts think to do full due diligence.

My wife and I don't like to half-butt stuff. When I was looking into this as a hobby, I wanted to go full blown deep end: no freshwater, go straight to saltwater, live reef etc. What's the point of an expensive hard hobby if you can't have all the colors of a reef tank! But I digress from my question...

The big debate in my household is that we wanted the aquarium to fit with our aesthetic. Once my wife decided that she wanted the tank in the open living room instead of just in my office, then the aesthetic appeal of the tank itself entered the conversation.

She hated the look of the Red Reefer 350 Q2 cabinet and lights (with how they suspend over the tank). So we actually have a friend who is an amazing woodworker. He is going to build a cabinet with a top to it. Something like this (but smaller):
1718021005424.png


So after going back to the store we worked with. They told us that to do something like this you really can't use the Red Reefer, and instead have to order a custom acrylic tank (or rather, if you are getting an acrylic tank, you might as well order it custom to fit the exact space).

We got a quote for a Red Reefer 350 Q2, 90 gallon tank (71 "active" gallons) for around 8500 (this includes everything to get us started: installation, gravel, salt water, live rock, hydrometer etc. etc.). 6800 was the price + tax + $800 home installation cost. We have yet to get a quote for the acrylic.

1) Was the estimate pretty standard (I can see from the red reefer site they did not upcharge the cost of the aquarium)? From what I can tell it's fair pricing (don't even try and suggest we install it ourself, I am hopeless at that stuff).

2) Would you agree that to get a good aestetic feel we would need to go with an acrylic instead of a pre-manufactured tank? That we can't somehow repanel a pre made or soemthing?

3) What do you think a custom tank will come out to (without the wood work)? It's going to be 37x17x24, with two sides not being clear (as they are up against walls).

4) How crazy are we? :D
Avoid red sea… look into their seam failures. Got rid of my red sea recently. Lots of options out there that are really good thats not red sea.
 
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littlefoxx

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Also look on FB marketplace. Great deals of people getting out of the hobby. Just got a 96x24x29 300 gallon planet aquarium tank with everything for super cheap.
 
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socool111

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So our full system was quoted as the following....there's a LOT of equipment here that is very specific. I really dont know what I'm looking at past trusting the vendor. This is what they say is required to get up and running for a live reef aquarium (fish/reef not included :D ). Not really asking anyone to go in and check pricing etc. Just seeing if all of this stuff sounds right for a full aquarium system, and if any of the systems have massive consumer negatives. I'll research each line individually myself, but could always look to you experts for thoughts!



1) Custom Acrylic Aquarium (duh)
37x17x24, black back and right side with overflow box in back right corner - $850

2) Filtration system -- Total cost $1650
•Trigger Systems Saphire 26" acrylic sump
•Red Sea Protein Skimmer 300 DC
•Red Sea ReefRun 5500 return pump
•Red Sea ReefRun Dual Controller
•AquaUV 25 watt ultraviolet sterilizer

3) Lighting -- $1006
•AquaIllumination Blades - 30" Grow x 2, 30" Glow x 1
•Mounting hardware

4) Accessories -- $1720
Aragonite substrate
•ReefWave 25 circulation pump
•300 watt heater
•Red Sea salt mix - 175 gal
•Red Sea 4 part additives
•Thermometer
•Digital salinity meter
•Acrylic polish
•GFCI protected power strip
•DI water•Red Sea ATO+ and 2.5 gal jug
•ReefDose4 dosing pump with tubing

5) Decoration - $340
•LifeRock 20lbs Shapes x 2 and one arch
 
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So our full system was quoted as the following....there's a LOT of equipment here that is very specific. I really dont know what I'm looking at past trusting the vendor. This is what they say is required to get up and running for a live reef aquarium (fish/reef not included :D ). Not really asking anyone to go in and check pricing etc. Just seeing if all of this stuff sounds right for a full aquarium system, and if any of the systems have massive consumer negatives. I'll research each line individually myself, but could always look to you experts for thoughts!



1) Custom Acrylic Aquarium (duh)
37x17x24, black back and right side with overflow box in back right corner - $850

2) Filtration system -- Total cost $1650
•Trigger Systems Saphire 26" acrylic sump
•Red Sea Protein Skimmer 300 DC
•Red Sea ReefRun 5500 return pump
•Red Sea ReefRun Dual Controller
•AquaUV 25 watt ultraviolet sterilizer

3) Lighting -- $1006
•AquaIllumination Blades - 30" Grow x 2, 30" Glow x 1
•Mounting hardware

4) Accessories -- $1720
Aragonite substrate
•ReefWave 25 circulation pump
•300 watt heater
•Red Sea salt mix - 175 gal
•Red Sea 4 part additives
•Thermometer
•Digital salinity meter
•Acrylic polish
•GFCI protected power strip
•DI water•Red Sea ATO+ and 2.5 gal jug
•ReefDose4 dosing pump with tubing

5) Decoration - $340
•LifeRock 20lbs Shapes x 2 and one arch
Looks good. The UV is overkill. Not a requirement.
Doser, Alk, CA, Mg, not required until you have a few Stoney corals.
Test kits.
Bottle bacteria.
An INKBIRD controller for your heater.
Enjoy.
 
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socool111

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Looks good. The UV is overkill. Not a requirement.
Doser, Alk, CA, Mg, not required until you have a few Stoney corals.
Test kits.
Bottle bacteria.
An INKBIRD controller for your heater.
Enjoy.
Thanks!
We plan on getting all those coral pretty early, and this estimate is from the shop where we'll work with. Can't hurt to have it for when we do. But good point that we dont need to "dose the water" (idk, im making up terms) until we put in the coral.

The lighting looks pretty slick -- i hear from forums and stuff that people "overpay" and can do things much cheaper. But tbh, having it be LED seems to be worth it, and we want the aquarium to look great. So I THINK this is what we are looking for.

I will look into test kits, bacteria and INKBIRD controller.
 
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Uncle99

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Thanks!
We plan on getting all those coral pretty early, and this estimate is from the shop where we'll work with. Can't hurt to have it for when we do. But good point that we dont need to "dose the water" (idk, im making up terms) until we put in the coral.

The lighting looks pretty slick -- i hear from forums and stuff that people "overpay" and can do things much cheaper. But tbh, having it be LED seems to be worth it, and we want the aquarium to look great. So I THINK this is what we are looking for.

I will look into test kits, bacteria and INKBIRD controller.
A UV light sterilizes indiscriminately so it works on both good and bad this in the beginning, is counterproductive to the maturity process.

Corals in early systems usually “melt” within a month.
 
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socool111

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A UV light sterilizes indiscriminately so it works on both good and bad this in the beginning, is counterproductive to the maturity process.

Corals in early systems usually “melt” within a month.
Thanks I'll take a look. I actually didn't realize you only were referring to the UV portion of the lighting as overkill. I'll find out more information on that.
 
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Uncle99

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Thanks I'll take a look. I actually didn't realize you only were referring to the UV portion of the lighting as overkill. I'll find out more information on that.
Yup just the UV.
It’s ok to have plumbed in.
But I only turn it on if I am targeting something in the water column.
 
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