Overwhelmed with planning my first reef tank - I've got questions

olive'sreef

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Hello! I decided to create an account here to ask some questions after stalking for quite a few months. My nickname is Olive or Oli, and I am a high school student planning their first reef tank. I've always loved science, especially biology and chemistry. This led me to setting up a planted tank which I still have today. I have been quite successful with this, and am looking for more of a challenge. Originally reef tanks scared me, however they now seem like just the challenge that I need. Due to my budget and living with my parents, I've decided to go with a 20g long tank. The only other equipment I've decided on is a seachem tidal hang on back. All the equipment options out there have become overwhelming, so I decided to ask some people who have experience with this (I also have some non-equipment related questions)

- What lighting would be best for a 20g long (preferably under or around $200)? I want to mainly have softies and lps, with some easier sps at the top
- How much flow would I need for this footprint of a tank?
- What are some unique stocking ideas for a 20g long that won't break the bank? I'm not really interested in clowns, I quite like cryptic fish that have interesting personalities

Any other tips you have for a beginner would be great! Is there anything you regret not researching before you set up your tank? I won't be starting this tank till mid-march, so I have plenty more time to research and ask questions,
 

Peace River

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#WelcometoR2R!!! I would encourage you to start by reading the following R2R article:

 

Malifry97

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lapin

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Hello! .........
- What lighting would be best for a 20g long (preferably under or around $200)? I want to mainly have softies and lps, with some easier sps at the top
Look at the Viparspectra 165w light

- How much flow would I need for this footprint of a tank?
Not a lot. 2 of these will work- Jebao OW - 10

- What are some unique stocking ideas for a 20g long that won't break the bank? I'm not really interested in clowns, I quite like cryptic fish that have interesting personalities
Look at shrimp / goby pairs and the clown goby

Oh and Howdy
 

Eva Rose

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Welcome! Don’t feel overwhelmed . Just read articles like the ones suggested, plan & ask questions. You are off to a great start already by planning.
BTW -Once you get to planning your fish stocking list, you might like a pink streaked wrasse!
 
OP
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olive'sreef

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Welcome! Don’t feel overwhelmed . Just read articles like the ones suggested, plan & ask questions. You are off to a great start already by planning.
BTW -Once you get to planning your fish stocking list, you might like a pink streaked wrasse!
Just looked at the pink streaked wrasse! I think I'm in love ;Woot Question, have any of you seen this fish at your LFS, or are mostly available by online order?
 

Eva Rose

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I’ve seen them in L F S when I’ve traveled on occasion. They are not uncommon. Not big selection of saltwater fish where I live.
When your tank is cycled, add fish slowly. Before you add any fish make a stocking list ‘wish list” of all the fish you would like appropriate for your size tank. Submit your wish list on the forum. Experts/staff members will make recommendations & evaluate your list. Stocking order is very important. Shy species need to be added first etc. They can advise of all of that.
Take it slow & you will enjoy the process even more. Good luck!
 

S.Pepper

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Welcome to R2R, Oli. Glad u decided to join. Yes, it can feel very overwhelming when u start in this hobby. Take one step at a time and be patient.

As far as the pink streaked wrasse, I've only seen it online. But I don't have a decent LFS in my area. It should be a good addition to your system. GL
 

BeejReef

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Welcome! Very excited for you.

Just stay simple and reliable on your lights. On and off or on a home-depot timer. They're what will crush your budget when the fancy gizmos break. Assuming you'll be off to college in a few years. Leave a tank at home that your family can (and will) look after.
 

Pickwun

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...Assuming you'll be off to college in a few years. Leave a tank at home that your family can (and will) look after.
And this is a great case for the HOB filter. As far as the brand goes just make sure it's easy to find supplies locally.
For a small tank the big thing is to make sure EVERYTHNG you do supports stability. In other words look at every part of your system and maintenance, and ask yourself if it could potentially cause a sudden change.
 

ClearwaterReeferNoob

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Just go slow! I'm 8 months in now on this journey and I can tell you that I followed the advice of these forums and so far so good! I do recommend that you never, ever use a swing arm hydrometer because that is the only thing I've found has got me into trouble. Hydrometer read 1.025... randomly decided to use my refractometer to double check... was actually at 1.034! Now, note that nothing died, but my Hammer certainly isn't happy. This also shows that if you are stable, things will adjust, but it's better to not tempt nature and just try to be the ocean, lol.
 

Quietman

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Welcome!!!

I always like to start the discussion with "what's most important to you?" instead of which type of what equipment you need right off the bat. First priority is type of fish, or type of corals - not all are compatible with each other and deciding your priority will help focus your decisions. Mixed reef corals (softies and lps and sps) are the toughest. Doable, but with the 20 gallon I'd recommend picking one to start especially since you're likely limited by budget. I'd go with softies with perhaps some lps. Very attractive, I love softy tanks, and are more forgiving which means less high tech gear and that means less money. Huge bang for the buck for beginners.

Not a fan of clowns either - but popular fish are popular for a reason - they're typically hardy, numerous and not expensive. Look up 'nano' fish on most sites for some good recommendations - there are excellent fish that are "common" and still very interesting with loads of personalty (that aren't clowns :) ).

Best of luck!
 

SebastianM

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Hello! I decided to create an account here to ask some questions after stalking for quite a few months. My nickname is Olive or Oli, and I am a high school student planning their first reef tank. I've always loved science, especially biology and chemistry. This led me to setting up a planted tank which I still have today. I have been quite successful with this, and am looking for more of a challenge. Originally reef tanks scared me, however they now seem like just the challenge that I need. Due to my budget and living with my parents, I've decided to go with a 20g long tank. The only other equipment I've decided on is a seachem tidal hang on back. All the equipment options out there have become overwhelming, so I decided to ask some people who have experience with this (I also have some non-equipment related questions)

- What lighting would be best for a 20g long (preferably under or around $200)? I want to mainly have softies and lps, with some easier sps at the top
- How much flow would I need for this footprint of a tank?
- What are some unique stocking ideas for a 20g long that won't break the bank? I'm not really interested in clowns, I quite like cryptic fish that have interesting personalities

Any other tips you have for a beginner would be great! Is there anything you regret not researching before you set up your tank? I won't be starting this tank till mid-march, so I have plenty more time to research and ask questions,
I’m a college student on a budget also, and set up a 10 gallon reef, I was overwhelmed at first but once you jump in it’s easy. Check out my build thread for all of my stuff, everything is hang on back and should work on a 20 gallon. Fluval aquaclear 70 filter is an awesome and versatile filter, I run mine with chemipure blue instead of the factory carbon insert, I have an amazon aquaknight 30watt LED $60 (might need to be hung a little higher to cover the spread of a 20 long) viparspectra lights are an awesome bang for the buck too. Hydor Koralia 240 gph power head off Amazon. I used dry rock(Amazon) with a small puchani dry shelf from my local fish store and live sand to cycle. My build is modeled off of YouTube’s Inappropraite Reefer’s budget build. As for live stock you don’t need to do clowns. Royal Grammas, watchmen gobies, cleaner shrimp all have a ton of personality and are nano reef safe. One tip with a small tank is to really keep up on the water changes, I do 20-30% a week, Saturday’s and wednesdays
918514A1-937D-48B6-911C-142AD27C9183.jpeg
60612C79-C302-4868-8158-06D4F9FB0400.jpeg
B46EDEC5-D4FE-40D8-A9C6-975AD3FDB9F0.jpeg
 

SebastianM

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I’m a college student on a budget also, and set up a 10 gallon reef, I was overwhelmed at first but once you jump in it’s easy. Check out my build thread for all of my stuff, everything is hang on back and should work on a 20 gallon. Fluval aquaclear 70 filter is an awesome and versatile filter, I run mine with chemipure blue instead of the factory carbon insert, I have an amazon aquaknight 30watt LED $60 (might need to be hung a little higher to cover the spread of a 20 long) viparspectra lights are an awesome bang for the buck too. Hydor Koralia 240 gph power head off Amazon. I used dry rock(Amazon) with a small puchani dry shelf from my local fish store and live sand to cycle. My build is modeled off of YouTube’s Inappropraite Reefer’s budget build. As for live stock you don’t need to do clowns. Royal Grammas, watchmen gobies, cleaner shrimp all have a ton of personality and are nano reef safe. One tip with a small tank is to really keep up on the water changes, I do 20-30% a week, Saturday’s and wednesdays
918514A1-937D-48B6-911C-142AD27C9183.jpeg
60612C79-C302-4868-8158-06D4F9FB0400.jpeg
B46EDEC5-D4FE-40D8-A9C6-975AD3FDB9F0.jpeg
LPS dominant tank
 

muzikalmatt

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Welcome to R2R! You can definitely reef on a budget and if you're looking for inspiration and ideas, check out Inappropriate Reefer's $146 10 gallon budget build here. The YouTube playlist walks through the setup and progression of the tank and he goes over some of the things that worked and things that didn't. You'd be surprised by some of the stuff he has kept in that tank including anemones and some easier SPS. He just relied on the HOB filter for flow as well which I like.

Regarding stocking ideas, I second the goby/shrimp pairing idea. I have a yellow watchman goby paired with a pistol shrimp and it's one of my favorite things in my tank.
 

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