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

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by mdbannister, May 13, 2019.

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  1. Stay nano less than 30 gallons

    52 vote(s)
    6.6%
  2. 30-55 gallons

    377 vote(s)
    48.1%
  3. 75-120 gallons

    294 vote(s)
    37.5%
  4. 120-180 gallons

    28 vote(s)
    3.6%
  5. 180+ gallons (as big as possible)

    29 vote(s)
    3.7%
  6. I've got a better idea (post in thread)

    4 vote(s)
    0.5%
  1. mdbannister

    mdbannister Ahh...the Reef Life Staff Member Team R2R R2R Supporter Photo of the Month Award R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 R2R Secret Santa Article Contributor Build Thread Contributor

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    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?
     

  2. Biokabe

    Biokabe Active Member R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    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.
     
  3. Mal11224

    Mal11224 Valuable Member R2R Supporter Partner Member 2019 Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    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.
     
  4. Hemmdog

    Hemmdog Valuable Member R2R Supporter Hospitality Award Build Thread Contributor

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    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.
     
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  5. Js.Aqua.Project

    Js.Aqua.Project Reef Addict R2R Excellence Award Reef Tank 365 Ocala Reef Club Member Hospitality Award Build Thread Contributor

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    I voted 75-120.

    Large enough to be stable without being too costly (emphasis on too) while being small enough that the appropriate filtration/hardware is still reasonable to afford.
     
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  6. Montiman

    Montiman Active Member

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    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.
     
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  7. Retro Reefer

    Retro Reefer Older than dirt! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Tank 365 Hospitality Award Build Thread Contributor

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    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.
     
  8. pathot984

    pathot984 ANGELFISH FANATIC R2R Supporter Build Thread Contributor

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    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.
     
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  9. Jon Fishman

    Jon Fishman Valuable Member

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    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.
     
  10. littlebigreef

    littlebigreef Active Member Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    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.
     
  11. ReefGeezer

    ReefGeezer Member

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    I'd suggest a 40 gallon Breeder. It has volume to aid in stability, good surface area for gas exchange, can be operated with a small sump and (relatively) inexpensive equipment, and has enough space for corals and fish.
     
  12. link81

    link81 Active Member Build Thread Contributor

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    40 breeder with sump.
    near perfect footprint.
     
  13. Pntbll687

    Pntbll687 Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  14. spyder813

    spyder813 !!! Happy Wife....Happy Reefing !!! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Partner Member 2019 Reef Tank 365 Hospitality Award Build Thread Contributor

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    I will recommend a 40g breeder too. Large enough to keep a few fish and corals but the downside is that you will want to upgrade soon..
     
  15. Entz

    Entz Member R2R Supporter

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    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.
     
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  16. KrisReef

    KrisReef Valuable Member

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    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. :)
     
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  17. James M

    James M I like anemones R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    IMO it’s a 40-75
     
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  18. Wolf89

    Wolf89 Active Member

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    40-90
     
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  19. Peace River

    Peace River Thrive Master R2R Supporter Hospitality Award

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    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.
     
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  20. showmebutterfly

    showmebutterfly Member

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    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.
     
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