HOB 38 gallon on a budget build

Griepp06

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so i have been doing freshwater for a number of years but i took a 5 year after living in a tiny townhouse for those years. Now that i have a house i am starting a tank again and getting into saltwater. I bought a Aqueon 38 gallon tank kit that had pretty much everything used for $50, a aquamaxx HOB 1.5 skimmer used for $75, a HOB 1 gallon refugium new for $57, mixture of live and dead rock for $60, used 2 bulb 30" T5 HO's for $20, and 2 ocellaris for $59, painted black gravel from petco for $18, and wood from home depot to make a custom canopy for the tank that i am still making that will hide all the HOB equipment for $25. my goal is to get into the hobby without breaking the bank and to prove the guy that was next to me at the petco in Minnetonka, MN wrong when he said that i was $2000 short to get into this hobby. so this is my build thread to see if a newbee can accomplish a half decent saltwater tank and not break the bank. goal is $500 so let me know what i am doing wrong if you see something.
 
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so i have been doing freshwater for a number of years but i took a 5 year after living in a tiny townhouse for those years. Now that i have a house i am starting a tank again and getting into saltwater. I bought a Aqueon 38 gallon tank kit that had pretty much everything used for $50, a aquamaxx HOB 1.5 skimmer used for $75, a HOB 1 gallon refugium new for $57, mixture of live and dead rock for $60, used 2 bulb 30" T5 HO's for $20, and 2 ocellaris for $59, painted black gravel from petco for $18, and wood from home depot to make a custom canopy for the tank that i am still making that will hide all the HOB equipment for $25. my goal is to get into the hobby without breaking the bank and to prove the guy that was next to me at the petco in Minnetonka, MN wrong when he said that i was $2000 short to get into this hobby. so this is my build thread to see if a newbee can accomplish a half decent saltwater tank and not break the bank. goal is $500 so let me know what i am doing wrong if you see something.
Painted black substrate won't work. Get something intended for saltwater use like sand or crushed coral. Your goal can be achieved. I built my 90 gallon for about $1000. I've spent double that since though.
 

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So is it an additional $500 you want to invest? Or what is left over...which is $150ish?

You might need a power head/circulation pump down the line. Once you get your HOB hooked up you can see how the flow is.

Some type of ATO is handy, you can make stuff cheap that can hang over the tank and gravity feed if you don't mind the look.
 
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Griepp06

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Crud I forgot to mention part of the tank kit came with a HOB filter, a heater that I will replace in the near future, and a circulation pump. I called the manufacturer about the rock and they said will work for both salt and fresh but I may someday replace it with black sand but will see how my current forms of filtration work out. I want $500 total and currently have $136 to play with if I wanna stay in the budget.
 
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Griepp06

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Griepp06

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I may have made the canopy too tall but I love how much room it gives me to work with the HOB equipment. Will be staining and sealing it with a polyurethane stain that matches the table at least I hope it will match. Spent $20 and got a starter zoa and 3 hermits.
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Griepp06

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so the auto feeder got returned as it was a bad product. I should have spent the extra $2 and gotten name brand. but in the last few days with the help of my local club I have been gifted 3 different types of zoas, a 2 leathers, 1 blasto and 2 lps frags to get me started. they are small but it is a start but I also found out that the T5 setup that I got on craigslist was so cheap because nobody in the marine industry makes a 30" T5 any longer. so once the old stock is gone I will be out of luck. better get a few ordered before they are gone like the dinosaurs. I have noticed my 3 hermit crabs don't really care much for cleaning like I want them to and would just rather sit each on a different rock for 3 days straight. eventually they have to get hungry and start cleaning my tank I imagine. starting off with my T5's on for 2 hours a day in the morning to get my new corals used to the new light source and just going to bump it up by an hour every few days.
 
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Having rocks stuck to the glass by suction cups gives me anxiety, if anything you should get the ones that have magnets. They're purpose built to be a decorative frag rack; kinda pricey though.

I like how you have a bunch of alcohol underneath the tank. That's not for carbon dosing is it? :p
 
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Griepp06

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ill have to look into the magnet ones vs suction cups.
no my tank is right next to my whiskey collection and some bottles don't fit any longer. I run a local whiskey club and am always trying something new.
i have thought about vodka dosing as I have heard it can help me with my nitrate problem but seeing if I can just get it under control with water changes first.
 
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Griepp06

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So I took out most of the black gravel and covered with black sand so there goes $20. Finished staining and sealing the wood up top. Was gifted a number of coral frags from the local club members but I don’t think they are happy and not sure why yet. Moved some of the rock around to make some caves for the clowns and added a turbo snail for $2. Now just gotta figure out what the few zoas are not happy about.
 

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Griepp06

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get my dogs groomed at petco and they sent me $50 in coupons so decided to use it on a new fish. i acclimated a gold sailfin molly to saltwater over the last 2 days and looks like he is going to survive the process and then used the leftovers to get a scopas tang. total out of my pocket was $4. the molly was drip acclimated from fresh to salt over 30 hours and then the tang was drip acclimated over an hour as he is already a saltwater fish. gave him a fresh water dip to make sure that he didnt bring any bugs into my tank since it is petco and some of their tanks didnt look very pretty with some dead fish. got the correct auto feeder delivered and started using that which was $25 so i am getting close to the end of my build budget but theres not much more i want to do. currently at $435 and feeling pretty happy about the whole thing for my first saltwater tank. left town last weekend and apparently my turbo snail i had just bought fell on its back and was not able to right itself back up which i did not know was a thing and it died. so that caused a nitrate spike but thankfully nothing else died from that but a few water changes brought it right back down. so how have i been doing so far?
 
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Griepp06

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Very excited about the O-ring replacement, I hate my aquamaxx skimmer's, also dripping n' such. Thankfully fiancé has a 3-d printer
Ever since I got the design right for the solid O-ring my skimmer has been doing so much better and I can dial in the exact height that makes it work and don’t have to worry about it slipping. Make sure you use a stainless steel nut bolt combo so you don’t have to worry about rust.
 
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