Is bigger really easier?

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by Frop, Sep 3, 2018.

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  1. Yes (from personal experience)

    256 vote(s)
    63.4%
  2. No (from personal experience

    71 vote(s)
    17.6%
  3. Can’t say (only had one size tank)

    77 vote(s)
    19.1%
  1. Frop

    Frop Valuable Member Build Thread Contributor

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    I was driving and I thought is larger really easier? Sure the water is more stable but what about tank maintainence with all the sand, glass, and water mixing so on.

    Let me know.

    What I want to know is this some saying a businessman started to sell more corals at their fishtank store? and after that the placebo effect has set in to make it true.

    To me smaller is easier.

    I’ve also heard saltwater is easier than fresh and it isn’t.
     
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  2. Rakie

    Rakie Federal Coral Reserve R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    Yes.

    Big tank = Big gear. Big gear = Saves time. Saves time = Easier.

    Big gear is more efficient. Keeps water cleaner, easier. Mixing is hard with small tanks because most use a 5g bucket, people with big tanks use a mixing station where they only turn a few knobs.

    Bigger is easier in every sense of the word, aside from cost.
     
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  3. CNDReef

    CNDReef Formally Toomanyfish R2R Supporter Partner Member 2019 Build Thread Contributor

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    My first reef tank was a 55g next a 75 then a 120. Never had issues with large swings and everything grew well. I now have a 29 biocube and if I don’t test it 1 day my alk will be off. Ph gets to 7.6 at night and 8.3 in the evening. If I feed a little bit more my po4 goes through the roof. These are my daily struggles, so I say bigger is better.
     
  4. Gareth elliott

    Gareth elliott Read, Tinker, Fail, Learn R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor NJRC Member

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    This is a depends situation.

    Bigger equals more volume, more stability in parameters. Also offers more fish choices for pests be it protists or algae.

    Smaller is easier to fix a problem, found a crab, move a couple pounds of rock can pull him out. Need to do a 50% wc, np.

    Nano size i find protein skimmers limited effectiveness. 20+ theres more options.

    Reactors, controllers, dosers etc all work on smaller tanks too. You can have high tech smaller tank to simplify maintenance.
     
  5. SPR1968

    SPR1968 Fish & Coral Addict! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad R2R Secret Santa UK Reef Club Member Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor Hospitality Award

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    I think bigger is certainly better to a point, and I can say I went from 260 litres to 650 (180g aprox) litres and the bigger is much easier to control and maintenance is also easy and you have a much wider choice of fish. It’s a good manageable sized tank.

    I can however imagine that when you go very large like 300+ gallons it could be a different story without a lot of automation for water changes etc, and maybe some of the guys with the big tanks can comment.
     
  6. Rakie

    Rakie Federal Coral Reserve R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    All the guys with big tanks in my club (multiple 400g+ tanks) are all super hands off. They pretty much feed fish, turn a few knobs once a month for water changes, or setup auto water changes.. It couldn't be easier. I'd argue you could do the same with a small tank... But nobody ever does until it's large.

    If you have a 300+ gallon tank and are trying to do things with buckets, yeah, it's gonna be more work... But most people who get a 300g tank spend like $8000+ on a custom build. A tank like that that takes a year to be made and delivered. They don't go down to bobs fish and get the biggest petco brand tank they can. So automation is part of that tanks design from the inception when you're talking to the tank designer and getting quotes.
     
  7. YellowFinsReef

    YellowFinsReef Active Member

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    I can tell you that I haven't been able to keep anything alive in a tank less than 20G. My quarantine is at least 40G.

    After my upgrade (180G), the death decreased (unless it was my fault like introducing an aggressive fish...etc.) and several of my fish are doing so well, they are comfortable enough to breed.

    But, nobody in the hobby is starting on the same floor either. Do what you think is best for you and within your financial capacity.
     
  8. Sallstrom

    Sallstrom Valuable Member R2R Supporter Reef Tank 365 Build Thread Contributor

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    But bigger is also more pumps, more sand, more water, more lamps, more salt etc etc. So it all depends on what you mean by easier.

    Easier to maintain water parameters? Well, depends on if that large tank if filled with corals or not :)
    But sure, more water is a good thing if you want more stable temp etc.

    More inhabitants to chose from is a good point, thats true.

    So some things might be easier and some might be harder. Of course it also depends on how well planned the aquarium is.

    / David
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  9. klm2500hd

    klm2500hd Member

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    Easier to maintain yes, easier on the wallet no. Bigger pumps, multiple lights, bucket of salt lasts 4 water changes or less, higher electric bill etc.
     
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  10. Ron Reefman

    Ron Reefman Lets Go Snorkeling! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    I'm going to go against the grain of the 'conventional' logic here.

    I downsized from a 430g system (180g DT & 75g DT & 175g sump/refugium) to a 200g system (120g DT & 40g DT & 40g sump) about 3 years ago and it was less work. Then I downsized from the 200g sys to a 70g system (40g DT & 30g sump/refugium) a year ago and it's been even less work. Over the course of a typical month I'd guess my work hours related to aquariums has dropped 75%.

    Yes, bigger is better in terms of stability... but IMHO, that's about the extent of it being better. I need to make less saltwater, do smaller, therefore easier, water changes. I have less glass to clean. I have a smaller skimmer to care for and clean. My 20g auto top off tank needs to be refilled way less often. All my spare components cost less because they are smaller.

    BTW, the reason for my downsizing was 2 fold. First, I wanted to reduce the amount of maintenance work I had to do as well as make it easier for my tank sitter while my wife and I do a lot more traveling. Second, I realized I can get a smaller tank to mature and look spectacular much quicker and easier than a bigger tank! It's also a lot less expensive, but that wasn't even a consideration for me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
  11. Captain Quint

    Captain Quint Salty Since '74 R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award R2R Secret Santa Build Thread Contributor Hospitality Award

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    More water volume is more forgiving.

    On my tank with 375g TWV, it was a pain to spend up to 8 hours cleaning with 100g WC and spending a small fortune on salt and other supplies nearly monthly.

    I'm happy with my custom 85g. And I don't have to spend much time, effort and money monthly.
     
  12. chipmunkofdoom2

    chipmunkofdoom2 Always Making Something R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Article Contributor

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    I don't think anyone has ever made this claim without having an ulterior motive (a LFS owner wanting to sell you an expensive saltwater setup, for instance). There's no way that saltwater is easier than fresh. Is it that much more difficult? No, absolutely not. I'd say they're probably pretty close in effort, with salt just being more expensive and needing more tools and time. But there's no way that salt is easier.

    This is a fair point, especially about the placebo effect. People are horrible at discerning cause and effect, as well as making rational and objective decisions about outcomes (this is, essentially, why the scientific method evolved). Having said that, have you ever maintained a large tank? Have you ever siphoned a larger sand bed? Have you ever wiped down the glass of a larger tank? How do you know you don't just believe your smaller tank to be easier because you've never cared for a larger tank?

    Personally, I would always take as large a tank as I could get (under 10,000 gallons or so). I work in the Living Seashore exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The smallest tank we have in my exhibit is 93 gallons. The main touchpool is 2,300 gallons and the Community Living tank is 1,800 gallons. These tanks are much easier to take care of than my home tank. They take more time, but it's not a lot amount more. Take the Community Living tank. The siphon is over 4 feet tall for this tank. I need to get a ladder out of storage to even get my hands into this tank. Is the sand easier to siphon on my 20g long? Of course (or, it would be if I had sand). Is the rock easier to scrub in my 20g than it is in the 1,800 community tank? You betcha. Is it easier to just use my magnetic scraper at home as opposed to using the telescopic pole on the floor mop to clean the inside of the Community tank acrylic? Of course.

    Is it that significant of a difference? No. Even getting the ladder out, the tank is cleaned in less than 20 minutes. Sure, it might take you 5 minutes or less to do this in your home tank, but this isn't a huge difference considering the huge increase in tank size. Plus, not every large tank is 1,800 gallons either. Siphoning just doesn't take that much time. A 120g tank has less than double the floor space of a 40g breeder. So if you spend 5 minutes siphoning a 40g breeder, a 120g would only cost you 5 more minutes of maintenance in that area.

    Are there reasons to have a smaller tank? Absolutely. The costs in this hobby just balloon as the tank gets larger. I personally wouldn't do more than a 40g breeder without some serious financial planning. But, that's a different discussion for a different time. Having worked with extremely large tanks, I would personally take a large tank any day over a smaller one.
     
  13. hart24601

    hart24601 Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award

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    I don't think so. Sweet spot for me is 40B. Nice to do a 10% WC with a single bucket (give or take).

    Being American I feel that it's a requirement to say bigger is better and get the biggest SUV and reef tank I can, but really my happy spot is smaller. I hear people "upgrading" is hobby but if they are only talking about getting a bigger tank I always think it's downgrading.

    Many ways to keep reefs that in the past were thought to be impossible are done now. Look how many sps pico reefs there are, and some really nice ones that just do 100% w/c weekly. Not saying that is the way to go, just those are not all that much work.
     
  14. ca1ore

    ca1ore Valuable Member R2R Supporter CTARS Member R2R Excellence Award R2R TV Featured Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Answers to these kind of questions never lend themselves well to broad generalizations. In some ways large tanks are easier, and in other ways they are not. Since most people start out with a small tank, and don't really know what they are doing; by the time they gain experience and upsize, of course things seem 'easier'. Certainly a larger volume of water will be more stable and a bit more resistant to environmental factors (also a function of the ratio of surface area to volume), but if you do have a significant problem it's more difficult to deal with ...... to me that's a push. I suppose there are certain kinds of equipment that are a fixed cost as a function of tank size, though most is variable. So I answered NO.

    As to freshwater, if you are talking a planted tank then yes, just as hard as reefing (though not as expensive); otherwise not even close.
     
  15. Breadman03

    Breadman03 Valuable Member Catskill Reef Member

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    *Yes* to a point. I think the sweet spot is probably 40-120 gallons because there is a lot of cost effective gear tailored to that size range, yet there is enough water to help keep things stable. It's also fairly easy to perform large water changes without huge amounts of dedicated space.
     
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  16. ThunderGoose

    ThunderGoose Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    Whew, this is complicated. I find my nano (14 gallon) to be easier and more satisfying to maintain. I just do half gallon water changes about every day. Never test. Of course I have easy corals and fish - SPS would probably require a lot more effort.

    My bigger tank (70 gallon system) has more stability and more automation. Once I automate the water changes it will probably be very easy. For now, though, I'm hauling buckets of saltwater up from the basement for every water change. That alone make it more work and more difficult (I'm more likely to skip those water changes). Plus I have more challenging corals (nothing that is listed as hard but I'm still very new at this).


    As to freshwater, if you are talking a planted tank then yes, just as hard as reefing (though not as expensive); otherwise not even close.[/QUOTE]

    Not in my experience. Again a lot of it is in choices. I have a 120 planted tank that needs very little maintenance and upkeep.
     
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  17. Michael Naegeli

    Michael Naegeli Captainspando R2R Supporter Partner Member 2019 Build Thread Contributor

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    I have much easier time keeping a 250gal total volume than my other smaller tanks. Under 40 gal has always been a lot harder for me to keep Alk stable.
     
  18. saltyhog

    saltyhog Valuable Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Leader Partner Member 2019

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    It very much depends on how you want to define easier. If you mean easier to be successful, then up to a point yes from my experience it is very much is easier. I can grow a much wider range of corals in my large tank than my smaller tank. However, if the larger volume and therefor larger expense/work discourages you from proper husbandry...no.

    Most people that go bigger also have multiple work saving gadgets. One example in my case is in my 72x24 tank I can do a 25-30 gallon water change in a few minutes without ever lifting a single drop of water and by flipping a switch and twisting some valves. My 10 gallon pico requires me to carry a 5 gallon bucket two directions for my weekly 50% water change. Obviously without that "technology" the smaller tank would be easier. My large tank has an ATO and a large 16 gallon reservoir that can be filled with a switch flip. The 10 gallon requires daily manual top off.

    I think it takes a bit more experience and skill to be successful in a very small tank but it is definitely doable.
     
  19. Gareth elliott

    Gareth elliott Read, Tinker, Fail, Learn R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Build Thread Contributor NJRC Member

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    You havent seen some high tech planted tanks lol. $400 co2 systems, dosing pumps, theres even some plants and fish, Madagascar lace leaf and hill stream loaches, that require high flow. Freshwater shrimp can cost in the 100’s for a small colony for rare colors. Or if buying F1 freshwater fish. My ram pair were $90 before shipping as they were collected from the orinoco and shipped to me. From the store they would be $10-$15 lol.

    Or if keeping large predatory fish of either end of the hobby, the food bill and having a system to clean up those left over bits of fish so you are not cleaning daily lol.
     
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  20. ca1ore

    ca1ore Valuable Member R2R Supporter CTARS Member R2R Excellence Award R2R TV Featured Build Thread Contributor Article Contributor

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    Sure I have, used to run them (even had a couple of articles published in FAMA; if anyone even remembers that magazine LOL). In fact the regulator I use now on my CaRx is one originally bought for a FW Co2, fertilization system. Not saying a planted tank cannot be expensive, it's just nowhere near as expensive as a comparably outfitted reef tank (a relative rather than absolute observation). Never could keep the Madagascar lace aponogeton alive sadly.
     
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