Going crazy with the different things I need/don't need the more I read. Can anyone clear things up?

Zip233

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So I haven't bought anything yet except CaribSea South Seas Aquascaping Base Rock and and still in my research phase. I want to get a 40-50G reef tank that is silent or near silent.

I read I need a protein skimmer + filter , then I hear I just need a protein skimmer and no filter, then I read I should have a refugium. Then I read I should use a reactor and I'm not sure if that replaces a filter and then run the skimmer 24/7 and then don't run it 24/7, so I'm just so confused now.

Basically I want to have some clown fish, some snails, a few shrimp, a few anemones, and a bunch of LPS corals and mushrooms. I'm going to start with a couple things and add overtime to keep things interesting so I don't get bored.

But what do I actually really need to keep the water clean and healthy? Also looking to keep it as quiet as possible (but prefer silent if possible) without spending too much. $200ish for the water cleaning devices or less if possible.

Also, is there such thing as a cheap(er) LED lighting system for coral? Any models you can recommend? I've seen some that are in the $200+ range and that seems insane to me.
 
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JumboShrimp

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Have you considered an all-in-one tank? It might simply things if you are new at this. You can drop all sorts of filtration options into the overflow chamber(s) and if you go slowly and follow good practices, you can likely keep clean water going without a skimmer or refugium. My Innovative Marine AIO is dead silent. Check them out.
 
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Zip233

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Have you considered an all-in-one tank? It might simply things if you are new at this. You can drop all sorts of filtration options into the overflow chamber(s) and if you go slowly and follow good practices, you can likely keep clean water going without a skimmer or refugium. My Innovative Marine AIO is dead silent. Check them out.
I did look into that brand and I had a couple issues with it. I'm okay with paying $550 for a 40G like the one they have, but it doesn't really include anything. I still need lights, a heater, thermometer, and several other things. The biggest issue was that its a square and I want a rectangular tank. Also, the price of the stand is out of control, its another $500ish.


Does a refugium replace a mechanical filter? Is it as good or better?
 

Screwgunner

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You need a filter . A skimmer will take out proteins out of the water so you bont have to do so much water change. Refugium helps with that more and gives a place for micro fauna to grow like pods to feed mandarins. But all you need is a filter and charcoal . You can put it in a bag or a reactor up to you. You will have to do weekly 20% water changes with just filter and charcoal . Add a skimmer now you can do 20% water changes every other week.
 

tautog83

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Well sadly there isnt one answer to this question . Let's start off with if you cheap out now you'll be quitting in 5 months . I don't mean that in a harsh way way but honestly if it takes another month or 2 to save for a better item do it ! For me the most important thing is an rodi unit if ya dont have that please start there . Like previously posted an all in one is probably your best bet , you'll just need a wavemaker, heater and skimmer(ya dont neeed it but it helps , most small skimmers that fit these kinda tanks arent usually very good especially in noise department)
. You can upgrade the return pump to a sicce and use food grade silicone mat around it to dampen sound if it's a problem . The 30 long version is 36" and gives ya more room. However remember more length means your light will cost more . Water changes will be your friend . There isnt really one answer as literally everyone runs something a little different to achieve the parameters we want . Research research research . Pick a tank you like then search build threads on here if that tank to get ideas.! Hopefully somewhat helpful
 

dwair

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This just simply isnt a cheap hobby. Steel yourself to that now. You can definitely cut costs but $200 for a light is definitely on the cheap end. You can maybe find some stuff used and go that route and save money.

all in one would probably be your best bet. Less equipment simply because you have less room.

but remember that equipment exists for a reason, example a skimmer. They all serve a purpose and educating yourself on what you need and want will save you more money than anything else
 

Billdogg

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I ran a 60g cube for 22 years using a dual biowheel HOB filter and a canister filter, a heater, and a couple powerheads. No skimmer, no reactors, using tap water. A diy T12 VHO light that cost me all of $50 + Icecap ballast to make. I was able to keep anything except SPS corals. Soft corals grew too well (they like slightly "dirty" (nutrient rich) water)

For tanks on the smaller end you don't *need* much more, especially starting out. You can get a 40 breeder (long) at petco during their almost continual $1/g sale. If you have any DIY skills you can make a stand using the RocketEngineer plans that will easily hold a tank of whatever size you end up getting. I built my first several stands in my living room (I was single but dating the owner of my LFS so that helped!)

There are as many ways to succeed in this obsession as there are successful reefers. Everyone does things slightly differently - find what works for you and go from there!

Most importantly - ENJOY THE HOBBY!!!
 

Gtinnel

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As already pointed out there is no right answer. The only things that are an absolute must in this hobby is a tank to hold the water, a heater (or some way to maintain a appropriate temperature), something to create water movement in the tank, and lights if you want coral. With that being said there are plenty of other pieces of equipment that are very useful but not necessary. The only extra piece of equipment that I would strongly recommend would be a skimmer because it helps remove waste from the water, and it helps keep the water oxygenated. If pulling in outside air or air through a CO2 scrubber it can also help raise pH level in the tank.

On my tank the only filtering equipment that I use is a protein skimmer. I don't have any reactors, filter sock or rollers, reactors, UV sterilizers, CO2 scrubbers, etc. I would use filter socks/roller if I had room for them in my diy sump though.

Anyone who tells you that a certain piece of equipment is required is just giving you their opinion and it's not factual.

Also, $200 for lighting is about as cheap as you're going to be able to get appropriate lighting for. If you think $200 is insane look up some of the major manufacturers, they're lights can cost several times that.
 

davidcalgary29

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I'm going to -- and no pun intended -- go against the flow and suggest that you start out with a Fluval Evo 13.5. Yes, yes -- it's less than a third the size of the tank you actually want, but hear me out.

First, it's got everything you need to start minus the rock, substrate, and livestock...and you won't need much of that. Put in ten pounds of live rock, and your cycle will be cut to mere days.

Second, it's really popular. There are tons of videos of mods and such on YouTube that you can watch, but you really don't have to follow any of them to have a successful tank. Yes, I replaced the stock pump with a Sicce for greater flow, and use a filter rack in Chamber 2, but that's about it. I have a mixed reef with the stock lighting, and probably could have done it with the stock return pump, as well.

Finally, it's cheap. You can get everything you've listed for $300. Use this for a year, and make your mistakes with it, and then buy a decent second-hand tank next year. You'll know what you really want at that point and be able to search for the best deals without getting ripped off.
 

davidcalgary29

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Going for a used tank is a great option -- if you know what to avoid. I learned all about seam incursions when I picked up a used IM40 last December...

I think that, for someone with no previous experience, buying a new, cheap, reliable AIO is by far the best way to start. It's the best way of avoiding those tank failures that drive so many people away in the first year of setting up their builds.
 

mike89t

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This hobby can get expensive fast. You are doing the right thing by researching first.

you don’t have to go full reef tank right off the bat. I would recommend planning for a reef tank and slowly adding to it as you increase complexity. For example there is no need to start with corals right away. If you plan for a reef but start with Fish Only for the first year you won’t need to purchase the expensive lights right away.

shoot my QT tank cost me about $100 to get up and running and I have a pair of clowns I can enjoy while I complete my display tank and the clowns complete quarantine. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

C357D427-2D4F-4E3D-8271-089C66C9F6FB.jpeg
 

dedragon

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I did look into that brand and I had a couple issues with it. I'm okay with paying $550 for a 40G like the one they have, but it doesn't really include anything. I still need lights, a heater, thermometer, and several other things. The biggest issue was that its a square and I want a rectangular tank. Also, the price of the stand is out of control, its another $500ish.


Does a refugium replace a mechanical filter? Is it as good or better?
They are all just being honest, that is just about how much everything costs in this hobby, unless you want stuff that is super cheap and cabinets that fall apart in a couple years due to the salt.
A cheaper way to start out with that size tank does have a few options,
in any tank you will need heat, water movement and light, thats it, but always good to have mechanical filtration even a hob filter like an aquaclear or seachem tidal.
Protein skimmer is not necessary but will make things like nutrient export and oxygen exchange easier.
I think the cheapest way for a 40 is the petco $1 per gallon sale for the tank and just an hob filter, and a good light, for corals on a budget orphek or3 at around $150 makes a good light that you can add more to in the future, but you dont need that in a fowlr imo. And a wave maker just to push extra water for gas exchange(jebao for budget) ($220-400 depending on what you go with)
More expensive option is the fijicube 32 gallon and a maxspect jump led or noopsyche or nicrew 50w led for a tank, heater, wavemaker and that is pretty much all set up.
Again there are a lot more options than this as well
 

dedragon

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also a refugium doesnt replace a mechanical filter, the mechanical filter removes floating particulates while the refugium uses algae to absorb excess nutrients from already decayed material if that makes sense.
 

reefinatl

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So I haven't bought anything yet except CaribSea South Seas Aquascaping Base Rock and and still in my research phase. I want to get a 40-50G reef tank that is silent or near silent.

I read I need a protein skimmer + filter , then I hear I just need a protein skimmer and no filter, then I read I should have a refugium. Then I read I should use a reactor and I'm not sure if that replaces a filter and then run the skimmer 24/7 and then don't run it 24/7, so I'm just so confused now.

Basically I want to have some clown fish, some snails, a few shrimp, a few anemones, and a bunch of LPS corals and mushrooms. I'm going to start with a couple things and add overtime to keep things interesting so I don't get bored.

But what do I actually really need to keep the water clean and healthy? Also looking to keep it as quiet as possible (but prefer silent if possible) without spending too much. $200ish for the water cleaning devices or less if possible.

Also, is there such thing as a cheap(er) LED lighting system for coral? Any models you can recommend? I've seen some that are in the $200+ range and that seems insane to me.
Basic budget 40gallon reef for clowns and LPS recipe

40 breeder for $50. No sump. 2 Jebao wavemakers or Koralia powerheads. $100.
Heater
Rock

Get a light, doesn't matter really on a shallow LPS and softy tank. I'd do a used halide setup but that's just me. Reefbreeder, black boxes, t5, would all work. If you go LED your biggest issue will be not overpowering it, use a par meter keep everything between 100 and 250 par.

$200 is bottom dollar for reef lighting. Always has been.

Do biweekly waterchanges of 10-20%.
 

MaxTremors

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I'm going to -- and no pun intended -- go against the flow and suggest that you start out with a Fluval Evo 13.5. Yes, yes -- it's less than a third the size of the tank you actually want, but hear me out.

First, it's got everything you need to start minus the rock, substrate, and livestock...and you won't need much of that. Put in ten pounds of live rock, and your cycle will be cut to mere days.

Second, it's really popular. There are tons of videos of mods and such on YouTube that you can watch, but you really don't have to follow any of them to have a successful tank. Yes, I replaced the stock pump with a Sicce for greater flow, and use a filter rack in Chamber 2, but that's about it. I have a mixed reef with the stock lighting, and probably could have done it with the stock return pump, as well.

Finally, it's cheap. You can get everything you've listed for $300. Use this for a year, and make your mistakes with it, and then buy a decent second-hand tank next year. You'll know what you really want at that point and be able to search for the best deals without getting ripped off.
I would second this, or if you want to go a little larger, a Biocube or Nanocube (32g and 28g). All three of these tanks come with pretty much everything you need (just need a heater and a wavemaker), and can be purchased new for $300-$400 (and there are other options, Fluval has a 32g rectangular AiO). The lights on all of these can grow pretty much anything (sps and anemones will need to be higher up closer to the light), and they’re all infinitely upgradable and DIYable. I think starting out, an all in one is really your best entry to the hobby, you can run it for years while you learn more and then down the line once you really understand everything you can build a larger tank that fits your needs and preferences. Search here or Google these tanks, I think you might be surprised at what is possible with smaller tanks (you can certainly keep clownfish, anemones, lps, and soft corals, though in a 13g an Anemone would eventually take up half the tank).
 
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