Wanting to get into Saltwater, So many questions.

Nekoreef

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(This is my first time posting, I hope I put this in the right spot, SO SORRY if I didn't!)
So I have a million questions, but everyday I have been reading or watching YouTube videos from so many different people. To say I am excited is really an understatement. Now watching videos and reading has lead to a bit of information overload and I am trying to get my bearings, there seems to be so much different information out there and every time I look something up it brings me to R2R and I figure lets just start getting into the community! It is so important to me to try to have the right equipment so my corals and fish can live happy. I am work from home and an introvert so for me I will be home a lot and plan to have this in the room I spend almost all day in :)

Now I plan to be saving and learning more, my plan is to get my live dry rock and live sand by 1/13 or 1/27, so that is when we would start the cycle. This build is a bit out but I have started saving, so basically I have OCD and I am trying to figure out how much to save and what all I truly need. I do not plan to run a SUMP on this first 40 gallon build. I love the water, I want to treat my tank with the respect it deserves as well so I of course want to make sure that my fish get along, not too many etc.

I am trying to go for a budget build but at the same time I am 100% willing to buy something a bit more pricey if it really makes that big of a difference (like the lights do!). I do plan (right now) on doing a 40 gallon breeder tank and I know I will need to get things to turn it into saltwater ready etc... So my plan is to post what I am thinking about and get feedback about what my options are so I can make my buying and saving plans. Then once I hit that rock and all my items I will post so much everywhere because I am so thrilled to be getting into this hobby. Okay so here are all my plans, I am new and very open to changing everything if I have too, I will leave comments about things I REALLY want, but I need tons of help and I hear that this community is amazing. One day after many years I will be the one offering help :beaming-face-with-smiling-eyes:

So to start the tank:

Aqueon Standard Glass Tank 40 Gallon Breeder
Aqueon Versa Top, Glass Aquarium Top

Now this is where I am very confused and unsure so I think I have 3 options in total with this tank Drill and make a sump (I am not doing a sump on my first build), 2 would be hanging on the back and 3 I found this Fiji AIO option which I think is really cool, but I can't find great information on it so unsure if I should. I am fine with things hanging on the back of the aquarium if that is better, but what all do I need exactly so here is my break down:

Option 1 SUMP
Nope

Option 2 Hanging on the back
Filter
Heater
Protein Skimmer
Light
Wavemaker
Ammonia Alert
Auto-top off - I plan to go with this $11 one, I am aware it fits a certain type of glass but I have a plan for since the straw is adjustable length, I may get an auto one eventually but to start I plan cheap and then I will manually do more if needed of course!

1659396445544.png


What else? (I am sure I am missing things)

Option 3
Fiji AIO Aqueon DIY Kit, 40-gallon (Picture below if you are unfamiliar)

1659395976620.png


Heater
Protein Skimmer
Light
Wavemaker
Ammonia Alert
Auto-top off - See picture above

I will eventually have a million questions about what I actually put in these filters or media baskets but for now can anyone speak for the Fiji AIO or is it better to just have hanging items? Also if people have recommendations on what to buy for each thing awesome :beaming-face-with-smiling-eyes: I have some saved from the videos and guides but I am not committed yet, still in the planning phase (OCD). I keep thinking why not just save for a complete AIO, answer is: still WAY CHEAPER than buying a 40 gallon AIO unless I am missing something (Totally possible), but with the stand, tank and either option 1 or 2 still way cheaper than buying a complete AIO and stand.

I do plan on getting an RODI for my top offs, plenty of test kits for the water levels and my saltwater to start I will go to a local fish store to pick up. Now for inside the tank plan:

Rock and Sand
Real Reef Rock (20lb, I am aware I need double this)
1659397153968.png


I was also thinking about mixing the Real reef rock with this Nano series, so 22lbs in total of the Nano and 20lb Real reef rock, now would this be smart or wasteful? Is it beneficial to start with the mix or will I get the same results if I start with only dry rock? Should I stick to all Real reef or all Dry rock? Also what do you guys think of this Nano series? :)
1659397124085.png

Live sand CaribSea Arag-Alive Fiji Pink Aquarium sand (This is what I read is really good for clownfish)

Fish
2x Ocellaris Clownfish - I will be buying them together, these guys I HAVE TO HAVE. I want clownfish no matter what, I just love them so make sure any recommendations are good for clown fish! I do want just a pair, not a single clown that sounds lonely :crying-face:
1x Firefish - I have seen videos and read nothing but rave reviews about their personality
1x Captive-Bred Blue Mandarin - I am aware these are hard to care for and to not put them in until my aquarium is mature. I 100% plan to wait to add this guy until myself and the tank are ready, even if its years. I am going captive-bred since they grow up on live and frozen diet and can acclimate a bit better (so I have read, any information that you want to share about these guy please let me know!)

These are all the fish I plan to have in my 40 gallon, no its not a lot. I would rather my fish have plenty of space and feel more at home then crowd them for my enjoyment. If you think I should add a few more for the sake of the ecosystem, awesome totally down, but I am also okay with just 4. From my research all these fish should be good together and I think with my inverts I picked?

Invertebrates
2x Scarlet Skunk Cleaner Shrimp (Read they are good in pair if put in together? Or can I do more or just 1?)
1x Tuxedo Urchin - This one may be a must on my list but if they would be bad for clowns then unfortunate, I think they are really cool to watch at night.
Nassarius Snail - How many of these should I get?
Watermelon Bubble Tip Anemone - I am unsure on this one, I really want an Anemone for my clownfish (I know they may not pair but I am hopeful) so do you think I can get this one in my build? Also should you add them before or after corals, or really when do you introduce them? If not this one is there any other I could get?
I am sure I need more here but I don't know what goes with the tank, really listed the ones I want and from there I am open to things I need!

Coral
I love the way most LPS look, so probably thinking a LPS/Softy Tank. I don't have specific coral picked out mainly because I plan to stick to WYSIWYG and LPS/Softies when I look through. In a 40 gallon aquarium can I so a mix of all corals or for lights and flow should I stick to like medium to low?

Sorry for all of the questions and the novel I wrote, but I just have so much in my head, HELP ! This is all I will post for now about this but help is appreciated so I can do all my research and OCD lists and reading!
 
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Carabeo

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Definitely spend a little more to get your sump and overflow or you'll wind up like me and upgrade 2 years later. I had the external overflow like 15 years ago and it was high maintenance. I have an internal all in one deal now and it's a pain to clean inside and the skimmer is just okay.

Dry rock can spare you the nasty hitchhikers. I seeded my rock with some liverock and now I've fully committed to always managing this terrible gelidium algae. The seed rock was bare and later turned red and furry. In hindsight I would have preferred all dry rock and quarentining corals. I did seed with bottles copepods, bacteria, and coraline once it was cycled with shrimp in a bag. There weren't significant ugly phases.

Have you thought about quarentine? I dipped my corals and still manage minute amounts of bubble algae and had to eradicate zoanthid eating nudibranchs. I'll be faithful to a quarentine tank forever more.
 

SchrutesReefs

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Since you are planning well in advance, I would opt to focus on the type of corals you plan to keep (it will change, just facts) and get some quality lighting. That will move with you WHEN, not if, you decide to upgrade. I also agree with the above post, research the sump again, not sure why you’re hesitant on it, but it is an awesome space to keep filtration and pumps and macro algae and etc.. I don’t even own a facebook and still find great deals on Marketplace, try there for a solid used setup to save some coin. And also the ads here for used lighting and skimmers.
I also started with dry rock, live sand, and bottled bac. I let my tank coast for a couple months before adding swimmers. It worked out well for me compared to when I was younger and failed to research and tossed anything into my tank.
 
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Jekyl

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Keep it simple...
40g
HoB filter- any will do as long as it fits tank size
2 heaters- I use eheim
Heater controller- I use inkbird
Rodi system- brs 5 stage
Wavemakers- jebao, cheap and reliable
Salt- cheap and available like instant ocean
Rocks- any cheap option on Amazon. ( I would recommend gulfliverock but pricey and live.)
Test kits- I recommend salifert
Refractometer with calibration fluid.

Lighting you have a long time to think about as it's not needed until months after cycle.

HoB skimmer can be added later if desired.

I have a 90 that is 5 years old now and very successful using the recommendations above.

EDIT: I have horrible manners.... Welcome to R2R!!
 

SchrutesReefs

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Keep it simple...
40g
HoB filter- any will do as long as it fits tank size
2 heaters- I use eheim
Heater controller- I use inkbird
Rodi system- brs 5 stage
Wavemakers- jebao, cheap and reliable
Salt- cheap and available like instant ocean
Rocks- any cheap option on Amazon. ( I would recommend gulfliverock but pricey and live.)
Test kits- I recommend salifert
Refractometer with calibration fluid.

Lighting you have a long time to think about as it's not needed until months after cycle.

HoB skimmer can be added later if desired.

I have a 90 that is 5 years old now and very successful using the recommendations above.

EDIT: I have horrible manners.... Welcome to R2R!!
Same here… WELCOME!! Haha
 

Uncle99

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Fish list fine, a Royal gramma might be another.

Inverts, shrimp, fine but remember they do steal food from your LPS corals so be ready to accept some losses. They also can harass anemones to the point they may move and hide.

Rock, for me, I’m happy to use dry rock, a bottle of Dr.Tim’s, time and good old mother nature will do the rest.
Used LR once 20 years ago. Never again. Even after a diligent clean was pulling out hitchhikers for years, tiny crabs, one survived three years, grew to 2”, and wreaked havoc on LPS.
 
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Nekoreef

Nekoreef

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Definitely spend a little more to get your sump and overflow or you'll wind up like me and upgrade 2 years later. I had the external overflow like 15 years ago and it was high maintenance. I have an internal all in one deal now and it's a pain to clean inside and the skimmer is just okay.

Dry rock can spare you the nasty hitchhikers. I seeded my rock with some liverock and now I've fully committed to always managing this terrible gelidium algae. The seed rock was bare and later turned red and furry. In hindsight I would have preferred all dry rock and quarentining corals. I did seed with bottles copepods, bacteria, and coraline once it was cycled with shrimp in a bag. There weren't significant ugly phases.

Have you thought about quarentine? I dipped my corals and still manage minute amounts of bubble algae and had to eradicate zoanthid eating nudibranchs. I'll be faithful to a quarentine tank forever more.
I will rethink the sump and I have for sure thought about quarantine and watched the dip process for corals I do plan to dip them for sure, full quarantine I need to think more about. I know its the safe and smart way for sure when I am starting so more than likely I will.

The only reason I am nope to Sump is it does scare me. Its more of plumbing and I know once in place like you don't have to worry about anything, but before then oh boy. So my boyfriend and I are starting tanks together if I added the royal gramma to mine should we just build together? We were thinking of 2 individual tanks (Mine 40 and his 30) but as I am reading more I am thinking we pool the money and start big since bigger is easier? Our biggest concern was that we would fight over what fish we want and they may not work together...etc. He really loves the royal gramma!

Either way we plan to buy tanks or 1 tank if we combine around Thanksgiving (Hoping for good sales) Would it be easier or harder to just start with like a 90-120 gallon? (Here I would 100% do SUMP hands down, already rethinking it for the 40 gallon though)

Edit: Also for sure thinking just dry rock now, I don't want hitchhikers and was already worried about that with my research. I would rather be safer and just go dry, plus its cheaper lol
 
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Nekoreef

Nekoreef

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Fish list fine, a Royal gramma might be another.

Inverts, shrimp, fine but remember they do steal food from your LPS corals so be ready to accept some losses. They also can harass anemones to the point they may move and hide.

Rock, for me, I’m happy to use dry rock, a bottle of Dr.Tim’s, time and good old mother nature will do the rest.
Used LR once 20 years ago. Never again. Even after a diligent clean was pulling out hitchhikers for years, tiny crabs, one survived three years, grew to 2”, and wreaked havoc on LPS.
If we moved to a bigger tank say like 90-120 does it help with the food at all? Also will the bigger tank be better for the anemones to live with inverts?
 
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Jekyl

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If we moved to a bigger tank say like 90-120 does it help with the food at all? Also will the bigger tank be better for the anemones to live with inverts?
Anemone work fine in both sizes. The key is having a mature stable environment for them. As a new reefer you should wait at least 6 months and be able to manage parameters.
 
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Nekoreef

Nekoreef

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Anemone work fine in both sizes. The key is having a mature stable environment for them. As a new reefer you should wait at least 6 months and be able to manage parameters.
Okay perfect to know thank you for that! I wasn't sure when I would want to add an Anemone I will be sure to wait until I have a stable environment. I want to get this right so I will play the waiting game even though I know I will be sad waiting, it is probably the most rewarding feeling seeing your coral grow and fish, well the whole gosh dang ecosystem!
 

Jekyl

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Okay perfect to know thank you for that! I wasn't sure when I would want to add an Anemone I will be sure to wait until I have a stable environment. I want to get this right so I will play the waiting game even though I know I will be sad waiting, it is probably the most rewarding feeling seeing your coral grow and fish, well the whole gosh dang ecosystem!
Once you start seeing coraline growing is about right. It'll be toward the end of the ugly phase. When you do purchase your first nem, get it from a local reefer and not a pet store or online. It'll be healthier and give a better chance for your first go around.
 
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Definitely re-think the sump. I’ve had tanks with and without sump, it would take a lot to get to me set up a tank without a sump. Maintenance is so much easier with a sump and your display is not cluttered. An aio tank isn’t bad but..there just isn’t much room in the back. You will always be looking for more room for heater, skimmer etc. Sumps can be pretty simple if your careful and don’t get crazy with the plumbing. A simple herbie drain and a return is all you really need. Some will say build manifold for future use but it’s not really needed. Just my 2 cents.
 
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Don't worry guys! As an update I am rethinking the sump, when everyone tells me to go for it and it seems like the good way to go all for rethinking, I just thought it was scary and was like probably not a first time thing. I have rethought it and am going to do actual research in how to make a sump or pre buy or ya know, research and then more questions will come I am sure :)
 
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I will rethink the sump and I have for sure thought about quarantine and watched the dip process for corals I do plan to dip them for sure, full quarantine I need to think more about. I know its the safe and smart way for sure when I am starting so more than likely I will.

The only reason I am nope to Sump is it does scare me. Its more of plumbing and I know once in place like you don't have to worry about anything, but before then oh boy. So my boyfriend and I are starting tanks together if I added the royal gramma to mine should we just build together? We were thinking of 2 individual tanks (Mine 40 and his 30) but as I am reading more I am thinking we pool the money and start big since bigger is easier? Our biggest concern was that we would fight over what fish we want and they may not work together...etc. He really loves the royal gramma!

Either way we plan to buy tanks or 1 tank if we combine around Thanksgiving (Hoping for good sales) Would it be easier or harder to just start with like a 90-120 gallon? (Here I would 100% do SUMP hands down, already rethinking it for the 40 gallon though)

Edit: Also for sure thinking just dry rock now, I don't want hitchhikers and was already worried about that with my research. I would rather be safer and just go dry, plus its cheaper lol
I would personally rethink using live rock it makes cycling a breeze and will come with way more bio diversity which in the long run will lead to more success.
 
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ABQ_CHRIS

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Hello and welcome. I think that many of your concerns/questions have been answered. It sounds like you are getting some sound advice and you're developing a good plan.

I am more a nano/pico guy, but if I ever go for a big tank it'll be really big tank. I think getting one larger tank between you is a better option than two smaller tanks unless you see yourselves parting or moving in the near future. OR you want to do two different types of tank? Aggressive/predator tank?
 
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Nekoreef

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Hello and welcome. I think that many of your concerns/questions have been answered. It sounds like you are getting some sound advice and you're developing a good plan.

I am more a nano/pico guy, but if I ever go for a big tank it'll be really big tank. I think getting one larger tank between you is a better option than two smaller tanks unless you see yourselves parting or moving in the near future. OR you want to do two different types of tank? Aggressive/predator tank?
Its more of a price the more research I do on the 120 gallons just the price skyrockets compared to us each doing like a 30 and 40, 40 for me and 30 for him. I am pretty resourceful and I have a friend that is an engineer and could help me build a stand. Everything I look at though is all together and like 2,000+ money wise which is way more than what we would spend to at least start to cycle a new tank. I may be looking in the wrong places, I am going to be calling some local fish stores tomorrow (the idea didn't pop into my head until they were closed today) to see if I can find some around us that may have the bigger glass aquariums for sale and probably cheaper than online at very least.

I could also be looking in the wrong places. I have tried to look on my local facebook market place too so right now its more of a waiting game and seeing what I find out about the 120ish gallons. Right now price is the biggest concern there for getting it off of the ground. While I love the fish I can see in the 120+s I would still be happy to keep a 40 gallon with some clowns and my fire. So I think our 2 set up is still the best option right now, our dream is to one day of course GO BIG, what we were thinking is in the future we would probably upgrade to like a 200 gallon or something (at minimum probably a 5 year dream) and then one of our systems we would transfer into the big boy and the other we move to our bedroom or something. (I know they can be loud but he sleeps through anything and I always have ear plugs) There is also the fact that having a 30 and 40 to start would allow us to learn to really care for corals and make sure we got this. I could also consider a 75 of course to just combine our tanks gallons, which may be the play as we are doing more research anyway.

Right now I am just in a huge research stage so really trying to gather as much information as I can to make the best decision for us in a lot of different ways. I don't want to start with something so big and then we do terrible at keeping it since we are new. I am fine with 2 smaller aquariums to start, but then again I do know after reading like the bigger are actually easier. So really yea just getting all the information, researching, asking questions, re-researching, more questions....etc. Its my process but I really like to know what I am getting into before I jump in
 

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