New to Reef Aquariums and I'd like some advice

Geo007

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I have had freshwater tanks before, ending with a 50 gal and a 75 gal aquarium. Now it's time to make a change. I don't have a saltwater aquarium yet, but I can't get anything larger than a 10 gal according to my Senior Living lease. I think I can get away with a 20 gal aquarium. My desire is to have a 20 gal standard/high tank and make it a reef tank. Having looked at several cube tanks, all-in-one aquariums, and several set-it-and-forget-it aquariums, I don't want any of those. I wish to build my own from the ground up.

I'm curious to find out what suggestions you would make for me to have such a tank. Live rock vs dry rock, live sand vs normal sand, type of fishes, any cleaning crews and how many, etc. Preferences on equipment such as filters, skimmers, water flow jets, etc. And more importantly, "why" you would chose those particular items.

Thanks in advance!

Geo007
 
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Pistondog

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Start with live rock, like from gulfliverock.com. the attached life gives a jump start, one case where money can buy time. Not that much $$. Caribsea sand, the live aspect is in the rocks.
Get an ato, tunze 3152, to keep your salinity stable. Get an rodi system to replenish water evaporation
Are you planning on a sump?
 
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Geo007

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Start with live rock, like from gulfliverock.com. the attached life gives a jump start, one case where money can buy time. Not that much $$. Caribsea sand, the live aspect is in the rocks.
Get an ato, tunze 3152, to keep your salinity stable. Get an rodi system to replenish water evaporation
Are you planning on a sump?
No sump, just a small quarantine tank. I too was thinking of live rock and live sand. I was unsure of the ATO since I am retired and pretty much I'm at home most of the time. I have thought about a skimmer and would appreciate some advice on one. Do you have any suggestions on an RODI system? I've been considering an Aquaticlife four stage one.
 

Jekyl

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Start with live rock, like from gulfliverock.com. the attached life gives a jump start, one case where money can buy time. Not that much $$. Caribsea sand, the live aspect is in the rocks.
Get an ato, tunze 3152, to keep your salinity stable. Get an rodi system to replenish water evaporation
Are you planning on a sump?
+1 on this

If your just running a 20 gallon that 4 stage will work fine. For a little more money I use the BRS 5 stage and love it. The other aspect is do you plan on having coral? If so good lighting, tests and a skimmer would be recommended.
 
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Jekyl

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I also always recommend 3 heaters. 2 for the tank, both large enough to do the job by themselves. Also a heater controller. I use inkbird and it has saved my tank twice already. The last heater can be smaller and is used for water changes
 

Pistondog

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No sump, just a small quarantine tank. I too was thinking of live rock and live sand. I was unsure of the ATO since I am retired and pretty much I'm at home most of the time. I have thought about a skimmer and would appreciate some advice on one. Do you have any suggestions on an RODI system? I've been considering an Aquaticlife four stage one.
I'm home a lot, but the ato tops off every hour or so.
 

Jedi1199

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For your RODI, I have a Liquagen 5 stage and I love it. Got it off Amazon for under $100.

For a tank that small Id go with a canister filter. I use a Rena XP3 on my 55g and it works great. I don't think they make them anymore, but an Eheim or similar would be just fine.

If you are home most of the time, no need for an ATO. I think too many people try to automate too many things on their tanks.. Good old fashioned elbow grease will do the same job and save you a whole bunch of $$ that you can put towards more corals lol
 
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Geo007

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+1 on this

If your just running a 20 gallon that 4 stage will work fine. For a little more money I use the BRS 5 stage and love it. The other aspect is do you plan on having coral? If so good lighting, tests and a skimmer would be recommended.
Yes, I do plan on having corals, but not right away. I'm a bit fuzzy on the differences between SPS and LPS corals. Do you recommend and skimmers?
 
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Jekyl

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I have one and wouldn't go without it. Besides the nutrient export the gas exchange is equally as important. SPS corals are the hard branching types typically. They require very good water quality and strong lighting. LPS corals and softies are the ones that move with the flow of the water and such. They require good parameters also but not as much light as sps
 
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Geo007

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I also always recommend 3 heaters. 2 for the tank, both large enough to do the job by themselves. Also a heater controller. I use inkbird and it has saved my tank twice already. The last heater can be smaller and is used for water changes
Yes, I've heard that heaters often fail. I will definitely get two if not three.
 

Jekyl

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Here's an SPS heavy tank


Here's a softie/lps

 
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Geo007

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I have one and wouldn't go without it. Besides the nutrient export the gas exchange is equally as important. SPS corals are the hard branching types typically. They require very good water quality and strong lighting. LPS corals and softies are the ones that move with the flow of the water and such. They require good parameters also but not as much light as sps
Good to know. Thank you.
 
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Geo007

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Here's an SPS heavy tank


Here's a softie/lps

Larger than what I can have, but beautiful examples. Thanks for showing these to me.
 
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Every hour or so? How close do keep your water level? Also, size of your tank and what is the RH in your area?
I don't, the ato does. Keeps salinity constant. The key to reef success is water stability. Salt is different than fresh.
 
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Geo007

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There's alot of new ones out I would look up the review
Would you recommend the Tunze 9004 Comline DOC skimmer? I've read several reviews about internal skimmers for nano reef tanks and this one seems to keep coming at the top, or near to it.
 

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Would you recommend the Tunze 9004 Comline DOC skimmer? I've read several reviews about internal skimmers for nano reef tanks and this one seems to keep coming at the top, or near to it.
I'd rather go with the Icecap K-1 or K2-50. Very reliable and looks and works like a full size skimmer
 
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WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR TANK TO HAVE A HEAVILY, MODERATELY OR LIGHTLY STOCKED CORAL BIO-LOAD?

  • Heavy Coral Load

    Votes: 66 20.1%
  • Moderate Coral Load

    Votes: 123 37.5%
  • Light Coral Load

    Votes: 130 39.6%
  • Other

    Votes: 9 2.7%
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