I started my first reef tank with all used equipment. Anybody else do this?

BRS

Did you start off in the reef hobby buying used equipment? Do you still use pre-owned equipment?

  • Yes, I did start off with some used equipment. It made getting everything going easier!

    Votes: 206 40.7%
  • Yes, I did start off with some used equipment, but it was a mistake I won't make again.

    Votes: 25 4.9%
  • I still buy used equipment! It's a helpful way to save money in this hobby!

    Votes: 164 32.4%
  • Nope! Everything I used to get started was new! And I'm glad I started with all new stuff!

    Votes: 117 23.1%
  • Nope! Everything I used to get started was new! But, I should've looked around for used options!

    Votes: 48 9.5%
  • I still only buy new equipment! Lots of problems avoided that way!

    Votes: 60 11.9%
  • Other... (Post in the thread)

    Votes: 14 2.8%

  • Total voters
    506

[email protected]

Living the Reef Life
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 18, 2012
Messages
35,077
Reaction score
53,584
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Fontana, California
So there's no doubt this hobby CAN BE expensive, but IMHO it doesn't have to be. I started off in the reef hobby with a 29g tank off of craigslist. I bought my first equipment all used. Now...there are some things I wouldn't buy used today, but there's no doubt that if I couldn't have started off cheap, I probably wouldn't have started at all. Anybody else have a similar story?

So...a few questions for this discussion:

1) How many of you started off in this hobby buying used equipment?
2) What are some things you would still buy used today?
3) What are some things you would NOT buy used today?


Btw, for anyone looking for some good deals on used stuff from other hobbyists, check out our R2R Marketplace forums!

Photo by @aquariumcarecenter
used equip.jpeg
 

aquariumcarecenter

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Apr 22, 2014
Messages
454
Reaction score
180
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
New Jersey
So there's no doubt this hobby CAN BE expensive, but IMHO it doesn't have to be. I started off in the reef hobby with a 29g tank off of craigslist. I bought my first equipment all used. Now...there are some things I wouldn't buy used today, but there's no doubt that if I couldn't have started off cheap, I probably wouldn't have started at all. Anybody else have a similar story?

So...a few questions for this discussion:

1) How many of you started off in this hobby buying used equipment?
2) What are some things you would still buy used today?
3) What are some things you would NOT buy used today?

Btw, for anyone looking for some good deals on used stuff from other hobbyists, check out our R2R Marketplace forums!

Photo by @aquariumcarecenter
used equip.jpeg
So for what it is worth as a retailer trying to sell used equipment its very tough. We have so many cool things and we had Zero Interest. Its very difficult for us to get all of the details together its easier for us to sell really cheap to get rid of. Let me know if anyone needs cheap used stuff. We are doing another try again at the end of July.
 

EugeneVan

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Messages
157
Reaction score
160
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Vancouver
For me reef keeping is a very very expensive hobby. You have to do all the indepth research (live stocks and equipment) that you are going to use and do it right at the beginning. There are so many moving parts in this hobby If you keep trying to put out of the fire everyday, it will wear you out in no time. Good luck and happy reefing. I will only start with new equipment (with full warranty) but get them when they are on sale.
 

Freddy0144

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jul 5, 2017
Messages
199
Reaction score
178
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Littleton Colorado
So, I have no issue with some used gear, My tank is used (I have had issued with used tanks in the past) the current tank was only two years in service and the original LFS knew the guy that was selling the current tank.

As for everything else, SUMP, Lights, Skimmer, UV, Rock, Reactors, ATO system and pumps that was all recycled from my previous tank, which was all purchased new when I built the previous tank. Some of it will be replaced over time and some already has been replaced. With the new setup, I have replaced the heaters, return pumps, and ATO container.

I really dont mind used gear from tank breakdowns etc. as long as it is tested cleaned and does not look like it belongs in the dump. There is nothing wrong with getting a deal here and there. Other places like Sand, and test kits, I like new stuff.
 

Saltysecondsreefing

Community Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Oct 18, 2021
Messages
32
Reaction score
48
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Boyne city
I started my first reef tank with all second hand equipment. and that was over 15 years ago. I just setup a new tank after 9 years and it was again mostly second hand. the tank, the lights, the power heads. the only thing new was the pump and the plumbing. now over time I will upgrade things as I see fit. But i always look at the used market first. I enjoy buying full systems and using the things I need and selling everything else. most of the time the things i keep cost me zero dollars because I make money on the deal.
 

Kristopher Conlin

Well-Known Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Mar 29, 2019
Messages
906
Reaction score
3,239
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Michigan
I started out with a 10 gallon with a little current USA two bulb t5 that my friend gave me in 2012. He had used them for a while and upgraded. I actually still use both of them. The little 10 gallon is a sump now and the t5 I use with with a kessil a80 for a nano! Still going strong.
 

fish farmer

2500 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
2,768
Reaction score
4,068
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Brandon, VT
1) How many of you started off in this hobby buying used equipment?

My first reef tank was actually my used SW from years past, used some of the dead coral and tufa rock for base. I have bought tanks and some basic supplies when I've been to store clean outs when I was younger. A lot of my original FW equipment was used by a friend who was a science teacher, slate bottomed tanks and 1970's era booklets.

2) What are some things you would still buy used today?

Probably certain sized tanks. Used tanks tend to find me, I've been given a couple of 55 gallon tanks before.

3) What are some things you would NOT buy used today?

Lights or anything electronic. I bought a used VHO setup at the LFS (it was in pieces, ballast, wires, end caps.) The ballast didn't work so I had to get a new one.

I did however maintain a used 0'Dell 120 gallon tank. When I set it up in 2000 it came with a couple of Little Giant pumps that worked for many years, an Amiracle sump and all the basic plumbing. It never leaked in the 20 years I was maintaining it. I did replace the lighting at one point with the VHO from above.
 

Slocke

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Feb 3, 2022
Messages
411
Reaction score
569
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Atlanta
I personally think that starting with a cheap and broken in system was a great way to learn and to experiment. My second tank is all new and has a specific goal that I formulated while experimenting with the used system.
 

undermind

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Oct 17, 2018
Messages
381
Reaction score
517
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Absolutely. I've always considered myself a master of finding deals (or at least in justifying expenses). But seriously, if it wasn't for good deals, it would have been tough to get a start in this hobby as a 19 y/o making minimum wage.

It has had the same effect on lots of hobbies and interests I've had over the years. I'm incredibly frugal and getting things at half cost make a big difference.

Now that a few years have gone by and I'm making a solid income, I think the "used" days are behind me though. I feel like people are a little more precious about their stuff now, and I find that the classifieds on most forums now have become kind of a frustrating experience (this forum included). My local craigslist is terrible, and FB Marketplace is a disaster. So I guess I feel lucky for getting what I've got in the past.
 

Cool Ethan

Active Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
May 19, 2022
Messages
102
Reaction score
83
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Colorado
I recently bought a fully setup system and saved a ton of money. I never would have been able to afford the same size and tier of equipment otherwise. And the whole used market is very much in buyers favor. Obviously need to be prudent on the purchases, but some great deals to be made.
 

Mperry622

Community Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Apr 7, 2022
Messages
64
Reaction score
74
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
48356
I started the hobby by buying a 55 acrylic and then a 65 acrylic refinishing both of them due to what looks to be a mad ex or revenge damage.. fast forward months. All the troubles I've had with my lights and pumps and everything else that I can't even list here and all of that would have been prevented if I would have just went big in the first place and bought new... Now I'm stuck with a 55 acrylic is 65 acrylic a sump a protein skimmer... Because I bought it used and it was already messed up I have no chance of reselling it... I tell you though my local fish store will never get another dime of mine he screwed me on so many different ways... And I totally lost all respect for him for wanting to sell me a puffer two weeks into having my tank set up.. cared more about money than the hobby.. got of topic.. forever always buy new
 

Richsoar

Community Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Apr 29, 2020
Messages
28
Reaction score
22
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
All of my Tanks are used. Two 72 gal were picked up at Auctions of Pet stores going out of business and my 45 gal was purchased at a garage sale. The old T20 lights I have were also used. Most everything else has been bought new.
Easier on the wallet.
 

davidcalgary29

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Nov 24, 2020
Messages
2,027
Reaction score
2,435
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Peace River, Alberta
I personally think that starting with a cheap and broken in system was a great way to learn and to experiment. My second tank is all new and has a specific goal that I formulated while experimenting with the used system.
I agree! Except for the part where you end up spending as much as you would have done so for a new one, and the fact that your old, broken system still ends up as old and broken. I swear I'm not speaking from experience.
 

Tamberav

5000 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Jul 4, 2014
Messages
7,254
Reaction score
10,788
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Wauwatosa, WI
I have a bunch of used equiptment

Used 6 bulb 48" sunpower = $200 (literally $400 saved right there) - going on 3 years, all parts are self replaceable too.

Used return pump (eheim) bought 7 years ago, still works like new ($?) - going on 7 years, duh

Used coated iron stand that someone had custom made ($75) - LFS sells some janky particle board stands for $300 :grimacing-face:

Used Regal 200INT skimmer = $100 (saved a whopping $630 dollars not even including tax) - running flawlessly for a year now

Used kessil H160 Tuna flora fuge light (it was free! was posted up for free to anyone who would use it by another reefer) - had it 6 months

Used Apex orange model (I bought a full system and broke it down and kept the apex, the breakdown essentially made the apex cost almost nothing, it was just time and effort to sell everything part by part) - running 4 years


You really don't have to resort to off brands or chinese stuff. You just need to be patient and wait for the right deal to come along and you can build a set up of main stream products from very little. Ofc if you don't like waiting, then buy new imo! Nothing wrong with it.

You can try and tell me my stuff will end up old and broken but it hasn't happened yet. If I pay a fraction of the cost and get 1 less year out of it, big woop.

I am just a naturally frugal person and like a good deal. It isn't that I can't afford it, but If buying a $100 skimmer means $630 more dollars to go into my savings account or invest, then I did good imo!

My husband wants some office chair that costs like $1600 new. I pointed out to him that he can get one for $550 at the office furniture store here and the thing only has a few minor scratches.

Stuff I don't buy used are things like my bed and clothing :p but aquarium stuff with is essentially plastic/wiring? a real wood dresser someone kept in good shape vs ikea crap? sure!
 
Last edited:

shakacuz

2500 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Aug 7, 2021
Messages
2,890
Reaction score
5,629
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Emmaus
everything i started with, with the exception of my tank and sump was new. moving forward to upgrading to a 75 from a 40, i’m trying to cut corners and save on some well kept used equipment. i’m still buying new here and there..
 

DeniseAndy

5000 Club Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
Sep 12, 2011
Messages
7,469
Reaction score
10,008
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
Milford, Ohio
My 29g JBJ was all new and this is technically how I started. However, within months, I bought a huge 210g system used with protein skimmer, sump, calcium reactor, pumps, tank, dry rock, etc.

Now, almost 20years on from that used purchase, the protein skimmer, calcium reactor, sump, rock and pumps are still going strong. I will take that for the $1300!
 

ReefRondo

Valuable Member
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
View Badges
Joined
May 13, 2019
Messages
1,044
Reaction score
1,321
Review score
+0 /0 /-0
Location
BEEFBOROUGH
I bought an entire running system with all old gear and it worked out fine for me. The inevitable upgrade then happened…a few times…ha ha! I did upgrade pretty much everything on my first system with better gear but not new gear.
 
BRS

What are all the ways you "filter" your reef aquarium?

  • Chemical Filter Media

    Votes: 183 46.9%
  • Skimmer

    Votes: 321 82.3%
  • Natural Methods (rock, sand etc)

    Votes: 336 86.2%
  • Algae Scrubber/Reactor

    Votes: 52 13.3%
  • Rollermats

    Votes: 63 16.2%
  • Filter Socks/Pads

    Votes: 215 55.1%
  • UV Sterilizer

    Votes: 117 30.0%
  • HOB or Canister

    Votes: 56 14.4%
  • Ozone Generator

    Votes: 15 3.8%
  • Coral

    Votes: 199 51.0%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 7 1.8%
  • Refugium

    Votes: 151 38.7%
  • Water Changes

    Votes: 274 70.3%
Tank Stop
Top