First Time Reefer: Please Critique My Potential Build List!

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OldRed1

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Hey, all. This is my first reef tank, and I am overwhelmed with all the equipment needs. I purchased a Waterbox 25g AIO peninsula tank and have an appropriate custom stand, but that is the only 'hardware' that I own at this time. Included below is a potential build list. If possible, I would love to get the costs down either by purchasing used products or less expensive alternatives. That said, I don't know where it is "safe" to cut costs, for example, I've read that you should never skimp out on a quality heater system. Thank you in advance for your comments, critiques, advice, etc. as I narrow things down.

ComponentNameEst. Price
TankWaterbox Peninsula Mini 25 (owned)$318.75
StandHomemade (owned)$150.00
Heater System100W Titanium Aquarium Heater System - WiFi - Bulk Reef Supply$118.99
HeaterTitanium Heater Element - Bulk Reef Supply$58.49
PowerheadVorTech MP10QD$349.99
Powerhead add-onVorTech Urchin Standard Flow Pump Guard$26.99
ATO SystemSmart ATO Nano - AutoAqua$129.99
Lighting SystemPrime 16 HD LED Reef Light - Black Body - Aqua Illumination$249.99
Lighting SystemPrime Flex Arm - 12 Inch - Aqua Illumination$30.99
Testing EquipmentHanna Checker - Alkalinity$54.95
Testing EquipmentHanna Checker - Phosphate$54.95
Testing EquipmentHanna Checker - Nitrate$54.95
Testing EquipmentHanna Checker - Marine Salinity$75.00
Cost total (no tax)$1,674.03

Not Included Above (but need to purchase):
- Live rock
- Live sand

Example alternatives:
Instead of the MP10, opt for NERO-3 ($350 vs $180)
 
Reef Chasers Aquaculture

jmoneyyy703

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You may want a small hang on skimmer or something to fit in AIO area. You could save some money with another type of powerhead. The MP10 is nice, but there are cheaper options since tank is smaller. Another option is buy used equipment from other reefers.
 
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OldRed1

OldRed1

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You may want a small hang on skimmer or something to fit in AIO area. You could save some money with another type of powerhead. The MP10 is nice, but there are cheaper options since tank is smaller. Another option is buy used equipment from other reefers.
I'll looking into a skimmer. The fish livestock will be limited, so hard to know if a skimmer will be necessary. But, great point to include it in the budget just in case!
 

October Sky

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Skip the Hannah Checker salinity and just get a refractometer. Get the Hannah HR Nitrate (you didn't specify). Those BRS heaters get terrible reviews (on their own site!). I got a Reef Breeders powerhead which is working just fine and half the cost of the Vortech. I will note it has a very wide pattern. You could probably find a cheaper ATO, I use a float valve kit from eBay with a lifter pump. A lot of newer ATO systems come with pretty powerful pumps, that's not necessary, especially given the small size of your tank.
 
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OldRed1

OldRed1

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Skip the Hannah Checker salinity and just get a refractometer. Get the Hannah HR Nitrate (you didn't specify). Those BRS heaters get terrible reviews (on their own site!). I got a Reef Breeders powerhead which is working just fine and half the cost of the Vortech. I will note it has a very wide pattern. You could probably find a cheaper ATO, I use a float valve kit from eBay with a lifter pump. A lot of newer ATO systems come with pretty powerful pumps, that's not necessary, especially given the small size of your tank.
Wow, this feedback is incredibly helpful. Thank you!
 

Bpp124987

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mp10 is pretty extravagant. Ice cap gyre would be fine and the only in tank flow you need.

get two jager 50w hearers and an inkbird from Amazon

I would recommend beefing up on lighting. One prime is a bit small.

definitely skip the Hana salinity.

good ato choice


I’m not familiar with that tank but you’ll want a skimmer or an intank fuge basket with like an innovative marine small fuge light.
 

Bpp124987

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Also try not to stress it’s hard to make too bad of a choice!

also concur try to find your local reef club and get used gear. My local one has a pay it forward section for giveaways even
 

Pntbll687

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Hey, all. This is my first reef tank, and I am overwhelmed with all the equipment needs. I purchased a Waterbox 25g AIO peninsula tank and have an appropriate custom stand, but that is the only 'hardware' that I own at this time. Included below is a potential build list. If possible, I would love to get the costs down either by purchasing used products or less expensive alternatives. That said, I don't know where it is "safe" to cut costs, for example, I've read that you should never skimp out on a quality heater system. Thank you in advance for your comments, critiques, advice, etc. as I narrow things down.

ComponentNameEst. Price
TankWaterbox Peninsula Mini 25 (owned)$318.75
StandHomemade (owned)$150.00
Heater System100W Titanium Aquarium Heater System - WiFi - Bulk Reef Supply$118.99
HeaterTitanium Heater Element - Bulk Reef Supply$58.49
PowerheadVorTech MP10QD$349.99
Powerhead add-onVorTech Urchin Standard Flow Pump Guard$26.99
ATO SystemSmart ATO Nano - AutoAqua$129.99
Lighting SystemPrime 16 HD LED Reef Light - Black Body - Aqua Illumination$249.99
Lighting SystemPrime Flex Arm - 12 Inch - Aqua Illumination$30.99
Testing EquipmentHanna Checker - Alkalinity$54.95
Testing EquipmentHanna Checker - Phosphate$54.95
Testing EquipmentHanna Checker - Nitrate$54.95
Testing EquipmentHanna Checker - Marine Salinity$75.00
Cost total (no tax)$1,674.03

Not Included Above (but need to purchase):
- Live rock
- Live sand

Example alternatives:
Instead of the MP10, opt for NERO-3 ($350 vs $180)
Things needed for a tank
1. Flow
2. Heat
3. Light

I think the list you have is overwhelming to say the least.

1. Flow
Personally I would skip the powerheads/wavemakers, and add one or two VCA nozzles to the outlet for the return pump. A VCA nozzle is going to run you $20ea, so we're talking $40(if you go with 2) vs $377 you have listed with the add on guard
2. ATO - I've only used xp aqua ATO, it's $127, so not saving much money
3. Heater - Eheim, cobalt, even the aqueon pro heater is a good choice. A good 100w heater shouldn't run you more than $75. I think the main thing is going to be finding one that fits in the back chamber
4. Testers, to start I would get a refractometer, or the glass hydrometer from Tropic Marin. I personally have the glass hydrometer. It's super easy to use, and theres no calibration. Save some money off the bat and don't buy alkalinity or phosphate tests yet. The nitrate tester may be useful, but a $10 API test kit will get you in the ballpark. Hydrometer $35 and nitrate test $55
so $85 vs $230 you have listed
5. Lighting - AI is a fine light, not sure how many other good nano lights are out there that aren't chinese lights.
 
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Dkmoo

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+1 on a skimmer. Something small like a tunze should fit in your aio chamber.

Flow - I like the nero series, small profile compared to the mq, looks better in a smaller tank. If you want to save money, something like a small hydor should also be enough unless you plan on getting corals like sps that need a TON of flow. (If you want SPS then 1 prime is not enough. Fyi)

ATO - not absolutely necessary if you want to save money. I never had one when I had my nano bc evaporation will be small. its so easy to just manually add a gallon of RODI. Even during winter when its driest in my apartment, I only need to top off every 2-3 days. In summer I tipoff every 4-5 days.
 

TL1

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If you stick with the MP10 check out the 3d printed forum for a guard that replaces the cage. Much smaller footprint and cheaper than the ones you can buy readily available online.

Also check out the Innovative Marine ATO Reservoir. If you have the space for it, it is super handy.

Lastly, for a few extra bucks I'd personally go with this salinity checker. I've bought refractometers and the Hanna Marine Salinity Tester only to stop using them for the Milwaukee alternative.
 
AS

Susan Edwards

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1. Flow
Personally I would skip the powerheads/wavemakers, and add one or two VCA nozzles to the outlet for the return pump. A VCA nozzle is going to run you $20ea, so we're talking $40(if you go with 2) vs $377 you have listed with the add on guard
3. Heater - Eheim, cobalt, even the aqueon pro heater is a good choice. A good 100w heater shouldn't run you more than $75. I think the main thing is going to be finding one that fits in the back chamber
4. Testers, to start I would get a refractometer, or the glass hydrometer from Tropic Marin. I personally have the glass hydrometer. It's super easy to use, and theres no calibration. Save some money off the bat and don't buy alkalinity or phosphate tests yet. The nitrate tester may be useful, but a $10 API test kit will get you in the ballpark. Hydrometer $35 and nitrate test $55
so $85 vs $230 you have listed
I would def. still add a wavemaker/power head. You cannot have too much flow. So many issues come of dead spots. With powerheads, you can put them lower in tank etc. More flexibility. I've used the jebao on amazon. I have a 40 g AIO and have 2 cheap powerheads and the return and still lack flow. I need to actually buy 2 better quality but not expensive as all my jebao have died after many years. Again, flow is everything! Even spending more. New tank I did not go cheap and what a difference.

If you have room, 2 heaters equalling what you need is always better than 1 big heater. Set one lower than the other to come on if needed

Yes on refractometer. Not that expensive.

No on api nitrate. I was using this on all my tanks for years. Used on the new build as well. Started to have algae issues yet no3 was low. Got the hanna HR and it was twice what api was and I didn't know. Spend the money on your testers. Worth it. And I would get the phosphate tester as you will need almost right away . Keeping no3 and po4 in line will save issues later. You can use api for the first month or so if you want to test often, but then switch. Even now I am testing every couple days as I started a new dosing regime of nyos zero so need to be sure it doesn't bottom out.

Good luck. start a build thread. Just copy and paste your first post here to start it off
 

Cali Reef Life

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I would skip nitrite Hana checker and salinity. get a Nitrate, nitrite, Ammonia test kit red sea or salifert. Save money on mP10 to small of tank cheaper options. Instead to get an RODI system and box of salt you will thank me later when you are not rushing to fish store before closing with a bucket or 2. Can get a cheaper heater as well but don't go to cheap get a mid range one. If you want an accurate temperature checker look up inkbird. Maybe a fish net and food would be good to add.
 

shakacuz

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swap the hanna salinity checker for a tropic marin hydrometer and a 500ml cylinder (to put the salt water and hydrometer in). replace the mp10 for a nero3, or better yet, jebao pumps. could try adding a reefbrite light kit to the prime, or upgrade the prime for a hydra32hd.

everything else is good!
 
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mjw011689

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The mp10 is definitely nice, but also top of the line pricing as others have mentioned. Also, I’ve got one in my 70, and it puts out plenty of flow and is only turned halfway up. I had it in a 29g biocube and it was way too much flow. Everything was blown around. In that small of a tank, you’d have it turned all the way down, at which point you’re not utilizing it for what it’s supposed to do (different flow patterns and strengths). It would basically just be a regular power head at that point that just shoots a constant flow. Nothing wrong with that, but it just defeats the purpose of the wave maker.

i also wouldn’t bother with a nitrite test kit… I saw it mentioned above but IMO not really useful. You’d maybe use it during cycle and that’s it. But even then, once you see your ammonia spike, and then go back down, you know you obviously have nitrites. Once your nitrates start climbing you know the bacteria is breaking nitrites down, so once you’ve got nitrates being produced you know you’re gonna have zero on the nitrites. No point testing for a number you know will be zero
 

PatW

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I would suggest an RODI system. For a smaller system, you could do a 4 stage RODI, I have a bigger system and a 6 stage RODI. It is good to have an RODI with inline TDS testing. That way, you know when your RO membrane is going and you can monitor your DI resin conveniently. And the extra outlay is not that much. You can store your RODI water in a Brute Trash can and mix it in another. It sure beats buying the water and hauling it home. I figure that my RODI system paid for itself in about a year in $ (assuming my time and car mileage was 0).

For your tank, I think most of your choices are good. For a small system, you can solve most nutrient export problems and trace element depletion and so on with BRUTE FORCE WATER CHANGES. On a 25 gallon system, doing a nearly 100% water change is pretty feasible. If you have a 250 gallon system, it can be done but having skimmers, dosers, and trace element addition schemes become more appealing.
 

Cell

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If it were me I'd swap a few things out, not all necessarily to save money though

Jager heater with Inkbird, just my personal preference/experience, I haven't used BRS's combo. If you have the space, 2x half sized heaters is preferable to 1x full size. I think you'd save money here.

Jebao powerhead. Saves $100's

Tunze 3155 ATO. Costs $80 more but over years of service is well worth the freedom from worries.

I'd swap out the Prime as well, but cannot recommend a great replacement off the top of my head right now.

You can save money with a refractometer instead of the Hanna, but everyone seems to love their Hanna Salinity checker. I have to dust mine off, when I first tried it out, it seemed to be reading a bit high for me.
 
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October Sky

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I would skip nitrite Hana checker and salinity. get a Nitrate, nitrite, Ammonia test kit red sea or salifert. Save money on mP10 to small of tank cheaper options. Instead to get an RODI system and box of salt you will thank me later when you are not rushing to fish store before closing with a bucket or 2. Can get a cheaper heater as well but don't go to cheap get a mid range one. If you want an accurate temperature checker look up inkbird. Maybe a fish net and food would be good to add.

I completely forgot RODI, that's a given. I have an RO Buddie which works just fine, especially for a tank as small as his. Mine is a 40 gallon with sump, so probably around 52-53 gallons total water volume. I usually do 5 gallons every week, or 10 every other. I filter RODI overnight into a 20 gallon brute, when needed.

For test kits, I do like Hannah for Nitrate HR, but under zero circumstances should anyone outside of a professional have an expensive Nitrite kit. You will use it a few times over a 3-5 day period, and then it's a dust collector.

Someone said an RO reservoir for the ATO, and I'd invest elsewhere. I use a 5 gallon jug from Home Depot and I "splurged" on the opaque one so I can see how full it is. By splurge I mean I spent $6.50 instead of $2.99. Those $100+ acrylic boxes are for show pieces or internet bragging points. A $10 10 gallon tank would work just fine.
If it were me I'd swap a few things out, not all necessarily to save money though

Jager heater with Inkbird, just my personal preference/experience, I haven't used BRS's combo. If you have the space, 2x half sized heaters is preferable to 1x full size. I think you'd save money here.

Jebao powerhead. Saves $100's


I'd swap out the Prime as well, but cannot recommend a great replacement off the top of my head right now.

You can save money with a refractometer instead of the Hanna, but everyone seems to love their Hanna Salinity checker. I have to dust mine off, when I first tried it out, it seemed to be reading a bit high for me.
I agree on the heaters, redundant is best. I have my tank in the basement, which isn't heated, so I need a 300w, when I should normally need a 150. I have the 300 watt and a 200 as my redundant, both hooked up to a Inkbird.

I also agree on the Jebao, but would recommend Reef Breeders, which seems to be the same factory, although with a much better warranty. I hooked mine up and it was clearly not fit well (it squeaked loudly), they 2-day'd the new part. I'm about to order a second to kill some dead spots.

And, while I have the microphone, I will say I just completely forgot how to mix salt and made a hot batch. Something like 1.035-1.040. I took a breath, got out the calibration fluid, got it to temp and adjusted my refractometer (it was off by .001. I then mixed in RODI to get the batch correct and did a water change.

On another note, I saw in the 518 Reefer Group that OP is moving to Saratoga, that's 30 minutes from me and I have an unused Hydra 26 HD with stand in my basement. Not looking to make this a sale thread, but if you're interested @OldRed1, I wont list it here or on Craigslist.
 

mdb_talon

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I am pretty "cheap" when it comes to reefing and i realize many disagree but personally dont think it is often a "get what you pay for" scenario.

MP10 is probably the best example. Unless the value for you is not having wire in the tank then get a nero....and thats only if want really need that small of a footprint and an app controlled device. Jebao and other offbrands work quite well and at least in my experience been extremely reliable(much more so than replacing wetsides on an ecotech).

I have paid for top of the line heaters in the past and always regret it as not noticed any significant difference in lifespan. Now i use an inkbird and the cheapest wattage appropriate 2 heater setup i can get.

I think there is a better case for spending on some higher end lights but even there i go cheap(i still got black boxes running that are well over 10 years old on a tank). In any case i would recommend something with a bit more uumph than the prime 16, but that at least partially depends on what your goals are(keeping in mind how they may change and it always being better to have too much light you can dial down rather than too little you have to replace).
 
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