Spend my money! I am starting a new 40 gal and have a budget.

yourmom

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I kept a 10 gallon saltwater tank for a little over a year (fish only) and started my 40 gal AIO with the intention of adding corals, anemone, etc about a month ago. Here’s what I have:
Livestock = two clowns, a bicolor blenny, cleaner shrimp and a tiger sand conch.
Gadgets = AIO Nuvo Fusion 40 Pro tank, AI Prime 16HD light, Ehein 100w heater and Duetto ATO.
Here’s what I’m considering: Apex - is it worth the money for peace of mind in tank parameters? Are there better alternatives? Protein skimmer - I’m overwhelmed by options, placement, maintenance etc. RODI system - currently buying water from LFS. Would prefer something under the sink in my kitchen if feasible.
I would love suggestions for peaceful fish, hearty corals, useful gadgets, etc from folks who have been here already. I’m looking to blow about another $750 or so to get it established. Would consider more if you can talk me into it! Thanks in advance!!

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92Miata

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Buy a Tunze 9004. It's the best skimmer I've found that fits in a Nuvo40. The IM skimmers are dumpster fires. Underpowered, unreliable, and loud.

You're going to need more light than a prime. Either buy two, or buy a used hydra/radion.

I'm not a fan of the apex - they're just not reliable enough for how much they cost. Way too many poorly built accessories.
 

thedon986

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With $750 I would pass on the Apex. It would be the whole budget. I haven’t used one in 10 years of reefing. Would it be nice? Sure, but you don’t need it.

If you don’t mind a hang on back skimmer the Aquamaxx HOB is a really great skimmer. Otherwise the IM skimmer they make would definitely fit but not sure on reviews. Also the Aquamaxx NF-1 fits but super tight. Might restrict water flow too much?

RO/DI a BRS 4 stage should be plenty if your water isn’t too bad. More stages can be added easily too. Upgrade from that would be a Spectrapure unit. Their RO membranes are a step up. I am going on 4 years with mine and still at 2 TDS post membrane. Get one with a manual flush for sure. For sink connection, I use a John Guest compression fitting that has a push to connect for the RO feed line. You remove the braided cold water tubing from the valve, screw this on then the braided back on. Permanent leak proof connection. I’ve had mine for 5+ years. You can also find fitting that let you plumb the RO waste into the sink drain but I haven’t cared to do that yet.
 

thedon986

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Buy a Tunze 9004. It's the best skimmer I've found that fits in a Nuvo40. The IM skimmers are dumpster fires. Underpowered, unreliable, and loud.

You're going to need more light than a prime. Either buy two, or buy a used hydra/radion.

I'm not a fan of the apex - they're just not reliable enough for how much they cost. Way too many poorly built accessories.

+1 on the light addition. 2 Primes will get you better results.
 
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yourmom

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I’m relying almost exclusively on my LFS for advice and they created the whole set-up for me. I wasn’t expecting to need another light so that is surprising. Kind of a bummer since it’s $220 or so that I wasn’t planning to spend. Is that an urgent need or something I can add eventually? The skimmer is something I was told isn’t necessary but would be a nice addition, as was the ATO but I can’t imagine life without that so I am glad I added it sooner rather than later. I would prefer something that fits in the back of the tank but the stand has an open back so I would consider running something underneath if it could work.
 

92Miata

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A second light can wait - the primes are a bit of spotlights though - so keep anything that needs light near the middle.

They're just way overpriced imo, and seem to sell really high used. I paid $275 for my use G3 xR30 with RMS. You're almost at that for a single new prime with mount.

Do you already have all the stuff listed under gadgets?
 

pseudorand

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I kept a 10 gallon saltwater tank for a little over a year (fish only) and started my 40 gal AIO with the intention of adding corals, anemone, etc about a month ago. Here’s what I have:
Livestock = two clowns, a bicolor blenny, cleaner shrimp and a tiger sand conch.
Gadgets = AIO Nuvo Fusion 40 Pro tank, AI Prime 16HD light, Ehein 100w heater and Duetto ATO.
Here’s what I’m considering: Apex - is it worth the money for peace of mind in tank parameters? Are there better alternatives? Protein skimmer - I’m overwhelmed by options, placement, maintenance etc. RODI system - currently buying water from LFS. Would prefer something under the sink in my kitchen if feasible.
I would love suggestions for peaceful fish, hearty corals, useful gadgets, etc from folks who have been here already. I’m looking to blow about another $750 or so to get it established. Would consider more if you can talk me into it! Thanks in advance!!

image.jpg image.jpg
Since you've been keeping a tank already, you should gear purchases towards current problems and future goals.

Got algae problems (looks like no, but perhaps those are new/scrubbed rocks)? Skimmer will probably help, as will RO/DI.

What sort of corals? Lights might be a requirement.

For stony corals, you'll need to dose kalk or two-part, so you'll need test kits (phosphate, alk, cal, mg) and mixing jugs and chemicals. That won't be $750, but make sure to budget for it. If you can't do it daily by hand, you may need dosing pumps, which aren't cheap.

Want expensive corals? Heaters reportedly are the highest failure item. Perhaps two smaller heaters and an inkbird temp controller to protect that "investment".

For some corals, flow is critical, but you can get small powerheads really cheap ($10) in amazon. That's almost cheap enough to ignore in the budget, but don't forget to buy them before buying corals that need flow.

Plan to quarantine (many swear by it)? Maybe $150 or so for a QT setup.

I'm sure you were looking for specifics and I provided a laundry list for generals, but I'm just reminiscing about all the things I didn't plan for that killed my budget.

For specifics, I'm very happy with my BRS RO/DI.
 
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yourmom

yourmom

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A second light can wait - the primes are a bit of spotlights though - so keep anything that needs light near the middle.

They're just way overpriced imo, and seem to sell really high used. I paid $275 for my use G3 xR30 with RMS. You're almost at that for a single new prime with mount.

Do you already have all the stuff listed under gadgets?
Yes, I have the things listed after gadgets = ...
 
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I second another light depending on your coral choices. If only softie and lps you might be okay. If any sps I’d get another 16hd to add on.

A BRS unit would be a wonderful thing (I went with a 6 stage because I’ll be getting a much bigger tank one day) mine is under my bathroom sink (can add photo if you’d like).

As far as a skimmer you might be okay without one if you keep up with water changes and regular maintenance.


I’d use the budget for some nicer corals or a few fish.
 
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yourmom

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Since you've been keeping a tank already, you should gear purchases towards current problems and future goals.

Got algae problems (looks like no, but perhaps those are new/scrubbed rocks)? Skimmer will probably help, as will RO/DI.


What sort of corals? Lights might be a requirement.

For stony corals, you'll need to dose kalk or two-part, so you'll need test kits (phosphate, alk, cal, mg) and mixing jugs and chemicals. That won't be $750, but make sure to budget for it. If you can't do it daily by hand, you may need dosing pumps, which aren't cheap.

Want expensive corals? Heaters reportedly are the highest failure item. Perhaps two smaller heaters and an inkbird temp controller to protect that "investment".

For some corals, flow is critical, but you can get small powerheads really cheap ($10) in amazon. That's almost cheap enough to ignore in the budget, but don't forget to buy them before buying corals that need flow.

Plan to quarantine (many swear by it)? Maybe $150 or so for a QT setup.

I'm sure you were looking for specifics and I provided a laundry list for generals, but I'm just reminiscing about all the things I didn't plan for that killed my budget.

For specifics, I'm very happy with my BRS RO/DI.

No algae issues yet, new live rock in the new tank. I lost a turbo snail during transition because I didn’t have enough to feed her in the new tank. Ended up keeping my old 10 gal and putting my other snail in there and just bought a 20 during the petco $1/gal so I can upgrade the old tank which is currently in my office. I plan to use it if anything needs isolating/quarantine. Would this work if I don’t use the 20 for corals and only keep fish in it? In the past I have just floated my fish/critters for 15 min to acclimate temp and then transfer into the water. I guess I need to get more serious about that transition?

Coral types- I tend to prefer the look of the soft corals but wouldn’t mind a combination of both. I don’t expect to check water daily, what dosing pumps do you recommend?

Heater failure is probably my biggest fear, which is why I wouldn’t mind a system to notify me if temps get out of whack. Are there others aside from Apex that do that? I currently have a 100w but have a spare 50w on hand if I need it and another 50w in my extra tank. Not familiar with inkbird so I will check that out.

Talk to me about flow- my AIO has a pump with pulsing setting (like waves, I guess) or constant flow. Intensity ranges from 0-9 for each but I don’t think it can be reconfigured to adjust on a schedule. It does have a feed setting that pauses for 10 min. The nozzles can be adjusted/aimed. Would I need something in addition to what it came with? It’s a 40 high or tall or whatever, not one of the longer tanks. The new 20 in my office is a 20 long, and I don’t know if the filter I keep on my 10, although rated for 20, will be sufficient in it. That is a problem for another day...
 
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yourmom

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I second another light depending on your coral choices. If only softie and lps you might be okay. If any sps I’d get another 16hd to add on.

A BRS unit would be a wonderful thing (I went with a 6 stage because I’ll be getting a much bigger tank one day) mine is under my bathroom sink (can add photo if you’d like).

As far as a skimmer you might be okay without one if you keep up with water changes and regular maintenance.


I’d use the budget for some nicer corals or a few fish.
Which fish would you recommend for the set up? My clowns (Raava and Vaatu) have been with me for a while and I adore them. My bicolor blenny (Tommy Twotone) hides in his holes most of the time but can get good-aggressive. He is better in the 40 than he was in the 10. I would like something bright in color; I’m told the tank is too small for a tang but I like the idea of a fish that will work a little. We tried a valentini puffer but he wanted to eat my snails and I’m not having that. I don’t want anything super high maintenance or aggressive but I do want something colorful with a good personality. I have a pajama cardinal (Benson) in my office and he is boring but I just pretend he’s super stoned.
 

92Miata

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On the Apex front , I run a Robo-Tank (reef-pi) on mine. Most of the functionality of an Apex, none of the shoddy parts, or proprietary walled garden nonsense.

$170 + shipping for the deluxe plug and play unit with a power bar, plus another $40 for a raspberry pi and sd card. Ph probes are like $20, temp sensors a couple bucks , etc.


I'm running a pair of jebao ow-10s in my tank - I think they'd work well in a softy tank turned down - and they're like the size of a golf ball.

I run my 50w heater on an inkbird that's plugged into the robo-tank. Inkbird turns on a fan at 80, robo-tank sends me text messages at 81.
 

pseudorand

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No algae issues yet, new live rock in the new tank. I lost a turbo snail during transition because I didn’t have enough to feed her in the new tank.
How did your 10g do though? If it had persistent algae problems, no skimmer and you used tap water, I'd put the RO/DO and skimmer as high priority, as input water and overfeeding are likely contributing factors. If you had no algae problems in the 10g, perhaps do one or the other, or reserve some $ for 6 months or so to see how necessary the are for your specific setup/tap-water input.

Ended up keeping my old 10 gal and putting my other snail in there and just bought a 20 during the petco $1/gal so I can upgrade the old tank which is currently in my office. I plan to use it if anything needs isolating/quarantine. Would this work if I don’t use the 20 for corals and only keep fish in it? In the past I have just floated my fish/critters for 15 min to acclimate temp and then transfer into the water. I guess I need to get more serious about that transition?
Weather or not QT is a requirement and for which sorts of things is hotly debated, of course. Weather or not you need to be more serious about it is a matter of personal opinion and risk tolerance, and even with QT there are no guarantees.

A fish-only tank you can treat with copper sounds like a solid QT plan, assuming you can catch your fish in the new 40 without destroying the tank. I have no chance of catching fish in my DT, so I prioritize prevention rather than treatment. Some advocate QT for anything wet, which I am currently trying but not necessarily sold on yet. In addition to ich for fish, you risk nudibranches and such hitch-hikers on corals that kill other corals in your DT and you have no way to get rid of. I suspect coral QT is a bit more important to those who have $10k+ of existing corals in DT.

Coral types- I tend to prefer the look of the soft corals but wouldn’t mind a combination of both. I don’t expect to check water daily, what dosing pumps do you recommend?
You don't have to check it daily. Determine your tank's usage and then dose that much daily. Re-check and adjust every few months.

I actually don't have dosing pumps because they're so expensive, and with COVID I never travel so I can dose by hand every day. Unless I'm reading the post wrong, our resident seawater chemistry expert @Randy Holmes-Farley says that all corals (including softies) use Alk and Ca, though I imagine the softies use less and would be fine sans dosing for a longer period of time. If COVID ever ends, I'll need to buy pumps before my next vacation, as I just don't trust the neighbor kids to measure and dose correctly. You may have more reliable friends/relatives able to care for your tank if you're away though.

Heater failure is probably my biggest fear, which is why I wouldn’t mind a system to notify me if temps get out of whack. Are there others aside from Apex that do that? I currently have a 100w but have a spare 50w on hand if I need it and another 50w in my extra tank. Not familiar with inkbird so I will check that out.
Inkbird has a good reputation and beeps loudly if your temp is out of range. It won't e-mail/txt you as some others will, but cheaper than an Apex. The point of two smaller heaters is that if one gets stuck on, it won't be powerful enough to overheat the tank, at least not quickly. ReefPi is a potenitally cheper solution than an Apex and could be set up to notify you, but it's not a "plug-n-play" sort of solution. (I'm keep meaning to finish setting it up, but haven't yet gotten around to it.)

Talk to me about flow- my AIO has a pump with pulsing setting (like waves, I guess) or constant flow. Intensity ranges from 0-9 for each but I don’t think it can be reconfigured to adjust on a schedule. It does have a feed setting that pauses for 10 min. The nozzles can be adjusted/aimed. Would I need something in addition to what it came with? It’s a 40 high or tall or whatever, not one of the longer tanks. The new 20 in my office is a 20 long, and I don’t know if the filter I keep on my 10, although rated for 20, will be sufficient in it. That is a problem for another day...
I wasn't familiar with the AIO, but it sounds like your covered. I can very much control if my corals open or not by adjusting the flow and/or their position within the flow. Just so long as you have options available to quickly adjust things if your new coral refuses to open or is bleaching.
 

Nick Steele

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Which fish would you recommend for the set up? My clowns (Raava and Vaatu) have been with me for a while and I adore them. My bicolor blenny (Tommy Twotone) hides in his holes most of the time but can get good-aggressive. He is better in the 40 than he was in the 10. I would like something bright in color; I’m told the tank is too small for a tang but I like the idea of a fish that will work a little. We tried a valentini puffer but he wanted to eat my snails and I’m not having that. I don’t want anything super high maintenance or aggressive but I do want something colorful with a good personality. I have a pajama cardinal (Benson) in my office and he is boring but I just pretend he’s super stoned.

How do you like the dwarf angels? I would go more for a Pygmy/flameback than a flame or coral beauty though.

Maybe some sort of wrasse if you’re so inclined. They are a few that fit in a 40G.

Depending on how you feel you could do a captive breed mandarin that is eating dry/frozen food.
 
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yourmom

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How do you like the dwarf angels? I would go more for a Pygmy/flameback than a flame or coral beauty though.

Maybe some sort of wrasse if you’re so inclined. They are a few that fit in a 40G.

Depending on how you feel you could do a captive breed mandarin that is eating dry/frozen food.
I'll look into these! I'm genuinely concerned about aggression, especially with the size of the tank. I want all of my critters to live harmoniously. My human kids are ******** so this is my second chance ;)
 

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If the Tunze 9004 fits as stated, then I'd recommend it no question. $150

If your water quality is good, then a 4 stage RODI unit from BRS should do the trick $150-215

In lieu of an Apex, consider an smart power bar with app controls and Alexa integration. $60

hmmm Amazon link isn't working so here's the model:

Kasa Smart HS300​


A heater controller of some sort is almost a necessity given the rate of heater failure. An inkbird or Ranco are your options here. ~$30

This would leave you ~300 for another light if needed or livestock. If you are keeping just softies and LPS you might fine with just 1. Primes are powerful.
 
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yourmom

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If the Tunze 9004 fits as stated, then I'd recommend it no question. $150

If your water quality is good, then a 4 stage RODI unit from BRS should do the trick $150-215

In lieu of an Apex, consider an smart power bar with app controls and Alexa integration. $60

hmmm Amazon link isn't working so here's the model:

Kasa Smart HS300​


A heater controller of some sort is almost a necessity given the rate of heater failure. An inkbird or Ranco are your options here. ~$30

This would leave you ~300 for another light if needed or livestock. If you are keeping just softies and LPS you might fine with just 1. Primes are powerful.
Thanks so much! I'll get the Tunze coming since a few folks have mentioned it. Sounds like a good move.

As for the RODI- Do I need to order an aquarium specific model from BRS or is some random Amazon RODI an option?

What livestock do you recommend for a new tank?
 

Nick Steele

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As for the RODI- Do I need to order an aquarium specific model from BRS or is some random Amazon RODI an option?
I would personally spend money on one from BRS or MarineDepot. These you can customize your filters how you see fit and if you want can buy them from many other places and many different brands.

If you go with one from Amazon make sure you get one that is interchangeable with many filters out there. Some of the ones on Amazon have specific filters that in time will cost you a lot. RO buddy comes to mind.
 
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