Getting started in reefing - What's the best sized aquarium for a beginner?

What's the best size tank for a first time reefer?

  • Stay nano less than 30 gallons

    Votes: 52 6.6%
  • 30-55 gallons

    Votes: 379 48.1%
  • 75-120 gallons

    Votes: 296 37.6%
  • 120-180 gallons

    Votes: 28 3.6%
  • 180+ gallons (as big as possible)

    Votes: 29 3.7%
  • I've got a better idea (post in thread)

    Votes: 4 0.5%

  • Total voters
    788

[email protected]

Living the Reef Life
View Badges
Joined
Nov 18, 2012
Messages
29,062
Reaction score
33,997
Location
Ontario, California
When you're first getting started in this hobby, the number of options can be overwhelming. So, let's talk about one of the key foundations... the first tank. What's the best size? What other things should a first time hobbyist look out for?
 
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock

Biokabe

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 21, 2016
Messages
483
Reaction score
656
Location
Tacoma, WA
Obviously it's going to depend on the hobbyist's budget and space constraints - I started off with a BioCube 29 because it was all I could fit/afford.

In a perfect situation, though, I'd say a starting hobbyist would be happiest with something between 50 and 90 gallons, with a sweet spot probably around 75-90 gallons. Big enough to enjoy some amount of stability, large enough to accommodate most equipment, big enough to enjoy a wide variety of different livestock. Starting off smaller, you're almost always going to want something bigger, and disasters are so much more common in a smaller volume.

I would say a 55 gallon would be perfect, but the narrowness of those tanks can make sourcing equipment frustrating at times.
 

Mal11224

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 8, 2017
Messages
1,527
Reaction score
2,880
Location
Long Island, NY
I think 75-120 is a good range to begin. Preferably closer to the 75g range.
It is a good size tank for beginners and the maintenance level is not as demanding as a smaller tank. Many people go into this hobby, me being one of them, starting small then wish they had gotten a larger tank. Although 70g is not small, I outgrew it in less than 2 years.
If you are just testing the waters, I would look for people selling equipment to get started perhaps purchase new items if I’m particular. It is always best to do research and know what you are getting yourself into. It is a responsibility just like any pet you bring into your home. Understanding the commitment and finer details will go a long way towards enjoying this hobby rather than regretting it.
 

Hemmdog

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 9, 2018
Messages
11,302
Reaction score
41,920
Location
Silicon Valley, CA
Started with a biocube 32, upgraded to a 90 5 months later. I’d say a 75-90 would of been perfect to start on. The biocube was a giant money pit trying to upgrade it to do basic features like a average(55-180) tank would have. I would of been a lot better off starting with the 90.
 

Montiman

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Sep 20, 2017
Messages
640
Reaction score
640
Location
Pheonix
When I worked at an LFS my advice was always quality of quantity. Based on your budget buy the biggest tank you can with quality equipment. Most people will be happier with a $2500 50 gallon tank than a $2500 150 gallon tank.
 

Retro Reefer

Slow and steady wins the race!
View Badges
Joined
Dec 15, 2015
Messages
7,653
Reaction score
43,657
Location
Manassas Va
If I had to recommend a tank for a beginner it would be between 20-40 gallons and potentially a AIO.. Biocube is a great choice but there are lots of others. Smaller tanks are much easier to maintain especially a AIO and cost are substantially less.. I have seen to many people spend a boat load of money on large systems only to realize the upkeep is overwhelming or the hobby is not for them. if the new Reefer loves the hobby and wants to upgrade the starter tank can be used as a quarantine or a frag tank in the future.
 

pathot984

The Disease Guy and Lover of Angelfish
View Badges
Joined
Feb 11, 2019
Messages
2,135
Reaction score
6,265
Location
LOS ANGELES CA
Budget is all a factor but the larger water volume the more stable. 1 think between 125G - 150G.

Second most important factor for new reefer is taking 3 months to let the tank establish. Be patient during that period and balance out all perimeters.
 

Jon Fishman

Cleveland Ohio, buy/sell local!
View Badges
Joined
Feb 18, 2019
Messages
4,657
Reaction score
7,529
If I were starting today (and not planning on upgrading anytime soon!) I would personally get a 90g Rimless Cube......

I have my THIRD tank of this calendar year currently being built..... If I started with a 90g rimless, I'd probably still be rocking it, with no immediate plans to upgrade.
 

littlebigreef

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Aug 25, 2016
Messages
601
Reaction score
577
Location
Naperville IL
40 gallon breeder is the place to be. It gives you the water volume and stability without the carrying costs of a 75 gal. It also affords the person the opportunity to get a number of smaller fish or a small tang or angel and if they plan ahead they can purchase equipment for use on a 40 gal that can scale up to a 90 gal.

Lastly, say they do upgrade to a larger aquarium- BOOM! you've already got your sump.
 

Pntbll687

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Oct 4, 2017
Messages
1,069
Reaction score
1,252
If I were starting today (and not planning on upgrading anytime soon!) I would personally get a 90g Rimless Cube......

I have my THIRD tank of this calendar year currently being built..... If I started with a 90g rimless, I'd probably still be rocking it, with no immediate plans to upgrade.
I agree with this 100%.

The 90g cubes are a great choice. If a reefer was super tight on budget, I would go with a 60 cube.
 

Entz

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
407
Reaction score
737
Location
BC, Canada
I was always size restricted (Strata/Insurance reasons) but if I could do it again, I would say whatever you can get that is at 3' long and reasonably deep front to back. 40B / Reefer 250/ 90 cube etc. Gives a lot more swimming room and layout options.
 

KrisReef

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
May 15, 2018
Messages
3,211
Reaction score
11,361
Location
ADX Florence
The answer to this question also depends on the size of the beginner? I could not recommend a deep tank to a short person who does not scuba dive or at least like to snorkel. The size of the tank is impacted by the amount of space the beginner has to fill, the size of their tank budget, the amount of time a person has to do maintenance vs just enjoying the reef, and what they want to put into their tank all influence what size of tank that a person should get for their first reef tank.

What is certain is that everyone should have at least one. :)
 

Peace River

Thrive Master
View Badges
Joined
Apr 29, 2014
Messages
9,156
Reaction score
57,034
Location
Central Florida, USA
For a starting Reef tank I usually recommend a 40b to those wanting to get a tank and a 55g for a FOWLR tank. In general I think a 40-75 is the best range for many beginners. IMO, having a drilled tank (although not a must have) gives the SW/reefer a lot more options and flexibility and may be at least as important as the exact size of the tank.
 

showmebutterfly

Active Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 22, 2014
Messages
163
Reaction score
221
Location
Springfield, MO
I started with a 20 high, upgraded to a 40breeder and now have a 65 gallon. If anything ever happens to the 65g, I am more likely to downsize than to upsize. I am pretty old school and pretty hard-headed. I am not into having a sump or being automated. Any tank equipment that requires wifi to operate goes immediately on my Nope list. I enjoy doing water changes and tinkering around both my reef tank and my freshwater tank. Realizing that more water volume means better stability, I still feel that starting smaller allows a new hobbyist to really learn the ins and outs and helps them understand that patience, consistency and regular maintenance and monitoring are key in this hobby. If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably still start out with the 20 high and recommend that or a 20 long to any new hobbyist.
All that being said, I keep softies and LPS, with no interest in keeping SPS. If I was into SPS, my outlook might be different.
 

Do we test our water too much and for too many things nowadays?

  • Yes

    Votes: 139 32.9%
  • No

    Votes: 209 49.5%
  • Not Sure

    Votes: 68 16.1%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 6 1.4%

Online statistics

Members online
2,151
Guests online
4,591
Total visitors
6,742
New Easy Masstick Fish Food: JUST STICK IT!
Top