is this all i need to start a succesful reef aquarium?

Top Shelf Aquatics


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Oct 21, 2016
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Tacoma, WA
so eeverything from tsm aquatics is qt'd? Thats a good deal considering that its only $5 more than the price i would buy it for before

Yes and no. Their price on some things is comparable, but quite a bit higher on some items. Additionally, you have to worry about shipping costs, which you might not if you buy locally. There are a couple of local shops that are worth looking at - I'm rather fond of Barrier Reef in Renton, and Saltwater City in Bellevue is also fairly well thought-of (though personally I find them pretentious and overpriced). At least in the past, Saltwater City QT'ed everything before putting it out for sale. Barrier Reef will do a quasi-QT on most of their fish, at least the wild-caught ones, before making them available to sale. But if you want pre-quarantined fish, stick with either TSM, Dr. Reef or Marine Collectors.

Any particular reason you don't want to use a sump? I can tell you from experience that having a sump makes things a LOT easier.


why did you put a reef in that
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Dec 9, 2014
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If I had a tank large enough to contain fish, I would 100% buy them from a pre qt source trusted by fish folks on here and never go through the effort to do it myself. I would not install them into a dry rock system, it'd be kp aquatics rock ran fallow for three mos before fish. I think that's about as solid as can be done.

***even with dry rocks its still a fine idea to get the pre qt fish. just feed them exceptionally, vs just the boxed items from pet store do what Paul does and make some human seafood freshness and worms occasionally as feed, the above and beyond feeding quality seems to be his core recommend alongside some sort of system maturity to help contain diseases

these choices offered are directly in line with the stickies from the fish disease forum. nobody says we have to do our own qt, solid solid input prior there.


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Feb 23, 2019
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Aquatic life 100GPD reverse osmosis bundle, which one? I personally dislike the ro buddie system as it needs more expensive filters purchased only from aquaticlife. BRS value system is usually what i would recommend if there is a sale, it is always discounted during sales.
You also dont want to chase pH using pH adjusters but more with added O2 and alkalinity adjustments. pH is usually pretty stable in reef tanks with proper water/air exchange


Well known Member and monster tank lover
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Aug 11, 2013
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Wisconsin-Florida in a year
The basic necessities needed are:
the equipment you need to get started.
- Aquarium tank
- Aquarium stand (unless its a desktop aquarium)
- Pumps
- Filtration
- Light
- Heater
- Saltwater
- Live Rock
- Sump
- Bucket or Plastic Container (use ONLY for saltwater)
- Rubber Hose for filling and siphoning)

It is important to select a place to keep your aquarium. You want to make sure to have enough room to work around the tank. You should keep your aquarium away from door or windows which have a cold draft and avoid placing your tank somewhere that receives direct sunlight.


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Jul 22, 2020
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United Kingdom
Hi, i'm planning a reef aquarium, probably 125 gallons. So i have been planning this for a long while now, since last September to be exact, and i think i did enough research on the equipment, how to use it, and what i need to start a reef tank. I think im almost done learning what i want to know, so before i go and make any rash decisions, i want to post an overview of what equipment i will be using and my substrates, live rock brand, etc. If there is anything wrong with what equipment i chose, please tell me and i will try to find a different piece of equipment. I have only 1 question: if i have high ph, low ph, high alk, low alk, or high or low of anything else, how do i make it get higher or lower? Do i buy a commercial substance? Anyway, heres my "shopping list" so far:

125 gallon petsmart marine tank with stand

500W AQQA heater for marine tanks 100-135

525GPH Polar Aurora filter for marine tanks up to 200 gallons

HFFFEER external protien skimmer for marine tanks up to 280L

Aquatic life 100GPD reverse osmosis bundle

3 Nicrew 150W lights

Nature's Oceans 120lb of bio-live sand

16 oz instant ocean epoxy

3 50G instant ocean reef mix

5g bucket for water changes

fish net

Hydrometer and refractometer

Salifert Nitrite, Nitrate, Ammonia, Alk, PH, calcium, phosphate, copper, and magnesium

battery powered air pump for emergency power outages (where i live we have a few every year - we have a generator but if it breaks this is what i will use to save the fish and corals)

3500 gph powerhead - pretty sure this will be ok for sps and lps, it is right? I will have mostly lps dominated reef

veggie clips for nori

algae scraper

Aqueon water changer - 25 feet

Ph increase liquid

Ph decrease liquid

Fritz time turbo start

20 gallon quarantine tank - petco

Will quarantine for a week and a half if none of the fish seem sick, if they do i will try to treat them and keep them in the qt tank

plastic decor from amazon

aqueon quiet flow 20 gallon filter

Orlushy 100W heater

Aquaneat powerhead

Nikou protien skimmer

I will feed the fish rod's original, but will feed the vegetarian fish also nori

Ok, thats my list - let me know if theres anything wrong with it. Thanks!
I would add a microscope
Mud for sump / media basket


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May 29, 2012
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Austin, TX
You can go with a hang on the back filter and skimmer, but a sump or all in one will be a lot less work in the long run. Also if you are getting coral a good light will make a big difference. Some of the Chinese wave makers work really well and are a fraction of the price. I haven’t found the really expensive equipment to be required for a great tank

Do you think there are benefits to turning your skimmer off for periods of time?

  • YES (tell us in the thread)

    Votes: 28 25.5%
  • NO

    Votes: 40 36.4%
  • Maybe but not sure

    Votes: 39 35.5%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 3 2.7%
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