Thinking about jumping back in


View Badges
Aug 12, 2019
Reaction score
Howdy. I made the mistake of going down memory lane looking at pictures of my old 75 gallon bare bottom FOWLR. I got out in 2008 right before my son was born.

My son just got his first leopard gecko and my daughter has a Russian tortoise, which meant a supply run to the reptile center at That Pet Place in Lancaster, PA which is where I went for any equipment I needed for my old tank. I made the mistake of walking around and looking at equipment and tanks. I think I got bit by the bug, and have a strange desire to start a new tank. I doubt anyone here would try to talk me out of it. :) I always told my wife I would love to set up a 180 or 250 long African Cichlid tank just like a reef tank, minus the skimmer, and if we ever played the lottery and won, I'd set up a 300 gallon or larger custom reef. She's a fan of South American cichlids, but we both love saltwater the most. As much as I would love to do a large tank, I was always worried about the floor with my 75 in our old farmhouse, so my mind is already going down the path of a 40 gallon breeder peninsula SPS minimalist build with a 20 gallon sump and custom stand skinned with old horse fence boards that I need to replace on the farm.

I still have my old Reef Octopus skimmer in a Rubbermaid tub somewhere, but other than that would have to re-buy everything.

Things I think I need:
40 gallon breeder
20 gallon long
Overflow kit with glass drill bits
Return pump - I think I used a Mag 5 or 7 on my old tank, but want something silent.
5 or 6 stage 100+ GPD RO/DI with a storage tank and inline TDS meters
RO/DI Booster Pump because I'm on a well.
Plumbing parts - AKA Legos for adults. When did colored PVC become a thing?
Lights - Leaning towards a 36" 6x39 ATI Sunpower T-5, but I have no idea what bulbs I want. I used to run a 48" 2 bulb compact fluorescent and moonlights with 10k and actinic tubes and really liked the color. I don't remember if I had 6500k lights or not. Not a fan of the deep blue/purple lights.
Skimmer - Maybe re-use the Reef Octopus, but I'm pretty sure it's rated for a 250 gallon, so I'm probably going to need something smaller. I need to research these new skimmers more so I can plan the sump.
Salt - Looks like Oceanic is no longer in business(?), so back to Instant Ocean or Reef Crystals
Rocks - Looks like there was a huge shift in the community in regards to LR and trade bans. I really wanted Pukani, but it looks like you can't really get it anymore.
Test kits
Media bags or a reactor for carbon
Brute trashcans for water changes and curing rock
Python hose
Egg crate
Ridiculous amounts of disposable income
2 part dosing

Fish - I would like to do captive-bred as much as possible.
2 Clowns
1 Royal Gramma
1 Firefish
1 Cleaner Shrimp
3 - 5 Blue Green Chromis

Things I'm considering - An internet-connected controller for the light cycle, heater, ATO, water movement, etc. Possibly drilling for a closed loop with an eductor. Reverse schedule lights in the sump. Whole house generator for power outages.

Things I still haven't figured out -
Siphon break for the return line. I had a 75 reef-ready, so the return line was in the corner overflow, which made it super simple to drill the hole for the siphon break. Not sure how that works when you drill the return line a few inches below the water level of the display. I guess in the grand scheme of things, it's not that much water volume draining into the sump when the power goes out.

Substrate - going for the minimalist look. I've done crushed coral, then sand, then bare bottom. I could do any of them again, but if I put substrate in, it will be super shallow because I hate siphoning it. If I go bare bottom, I will probably paint the bottom of the tank white instead of putting cutting board in the bottom.

I've pretty much already built it in my mind. Just need to convince the CFO to allocate the funds for the project. She's been watching a few YouTube videos with me and I've been showing her some build threads. I'm pretty sure I can get her on board pretty easily, but I know I'm going to have a battle over the cost of lights, skimmer, and water movement, but she will spend money on livestock if she likes them.

1st post. I got out in 2008. Looked at some old pics of my tank and got nostalgic. Been lurking and thinking about setting up a small reef tank, but need lots of equipment and am open to ideas and input. Thanks.



Well-Known Member
View Badges
Apr 8, 2014
Reaction score
I would start watching selling forums on ebay, craigslist, etc... you can get top notch equipment for nearly half the price. I scored a brand new xr-15 in box manufacturing date june 2019 for super cheap and got a brand new mp-10qdw for super cheap as well. so I would make it a habit to check and start watching for the items you want! Could take a week or a month! But the big boss upstairs (wife) would be much happier to see cheaper prices!!

Peace River

Thrive Master
View Badges
Apr 29, 2014
Reaction score
Central Florida, USA
Welcome to R2R!!! Thank you for the introduction! I usually put the siphon break holes about 1”-1.5” below the water surface and then you need to allow for that volume of water above your max water line in your sump. We’re glad you’re here!


Active Member
View Badges
Jan 23, 2014
Reaction score
Welcome back to the hobby kwjones and welcome to R2R!!!! Lots of great folks around here...and you are correct in the fact that I doubt any will try to talk you out of it but will be quick to offer you advice!!!

"Ridiculous amounts of disposable income" - had a good laugh with your inclusion of this statement in your 'Things I think I need"...oh so true

Would definitely recommend a's more of a luxury item but has made my life easier and gives me piece of mind...especially when traveling.

R/T the siphon break, I also drilled a hole in my line just above my water can always use a check valve as well but over time you will have to replace it R/T the salt corroding it. You could put a check valve in-between two unions, then it would be minimal cost to replace...depending on what PVC/tubing you use.

R/T the associated costs of everything, my wife believes (or at least she pretends to believe) that every piece of equipment I buy/add is half of what it really is...LOL (I think she just humors me actually). Of course, there is always the occasional items won in a contest as well...If she is apt to purchasing livestock and such, always take her with you to the LFS or while shopping online.

:cool: :cool::cool:
Aquarium Specialty - dry goods & marine livestock

How often do have to clean your aquarium glass?

  • Every Day

    Votes: 39 8.7%
  • A few Days a Week

    Votes: 135 30.3%
  • A Couple Days a Week

    Votes: 142 31.8%
  • Once a Week

    Votes: 106 23.8%
  • Every 10 or so Days

    Votes: 24 5.4%
  • Every Couple of Weeks

    Votes: 18 4.0%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 5 1.1%

Online statistics

Members online
Guests online
Total visitors