What would you buy with a budget of $5-10k?

austrum

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Getting back into the reefing game again after a nearly 20 year hiatus. A lot has changed since I last had a tank and I've been reading up a ton on the different methods, equipment, etc. Without injecting my own biases based on what I've researched thus far, I'd like to know what YOU would buy if you had somewhere in the neighborhood of $5-10k to spend?

My desires:
  • Mixed reef tank
  • 100 gal+ display tank with stand
  • Equipment all housed in stand
  • Branch rock incorporated into my aquascape
  • Quarantine tank (at least 10 gal, stand not needed)
Long-term goals:
  • Diverse blend of SPS and LPS corals that I can frag
  • House an Achilles Tang (will probably require a bigger tank than I can afford now)
 
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itsken37

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controller
tank - comes with mostly everything (sump w/ pump, lighting) not large enough for the tang
rocks and sand - your choice
quarantine
salt
little things like testing and additives are up to your choice
final cost: $6572.93 ---- this excludes the rocks, sand and coral
 

Sudaien

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Getting back into the reefing game again after a nearly 20 year hiatus. A lot has changed since I last had a tank and I've been reading up a ton on the different methods, equipment, etc. Without injecting my own biases based on what I've researched thus far, I'd like to know what YOU would buy if you had somewhere in the neighborhood of $5-10k to spend?

My desires:
  • Mixed reef tank
  • 100 gal+ display tank with stand
  • Equipment all housed in stand
  • Branch rock incorporated into my aquascape
  • Quarantine tank (at least 10 gal, stand not needed)
Long-term goals:
  • Diverse blend of SPS and LPS corals that I can frag
  • House an Achilles Tang (will probably require a bigger tank than I can afford now)
Big difference between 5k and 10 k
 
AS

CubsFan

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I’d go with one of the complete set ups from Red Sea or equivalent. 4-5 footer. Some tunze Powerheads, tunze ato, appropriate size skimmer is a toss up. I’ve had plenty of success with lower priced skimmers. I like the ati t5 and led combo. Finally some real live rock from the folks that send it wet. TB is out right now, but I think there’s some other stuff that folks are talking about on r2r. Controller would be nice. Heaters of course. Have fun!
 

Bruce60

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It can be done within that budget, as well as keeping everything in the stand. I was able to do that with a 150 gallon (5' by 2' by 2') two years ago now. You can get away with a tang in a 5' tank (I have an Atlantic Blue), although some will say 6' is better. If you want enough room for everything in the stand like I did, I would recommend you get a stand that is 36" tall instead of 30" tall. You will have more room to arrange everything and have access to it, plus you can get a taller skimmer in the space. And most people will not notice the difference in tank height.

You can purchase a complete setup as described above (or many others like it) or you can go best-of-breed. The issue with most of the complete set-ups is that one or more components are not exactly what I would prefer. I had one company provide the tank, stand, sump and basic plumbing that connected everything. I then chose the components based on my needs and research. Since you are interested in a mixed reef like I am, here are the components that I chose, and after two years I am happy with almost all my choices.
  • Tank, stand and sump/refugium was purchased from Custom Aquariums. They did an amazing job, packed it extremely well and had it delivered to my home. You can frequently find sales or discounts on their site and save a few $'s also. If you are putting everything in the stand, you may like their modular sump option where every compartment has a lid. I have no humidity issues in my stand, even on humid summer days. I keep a screen top on the display to provide evaporation and heat loss. I added a 5 gallon container for top off water.
  • Skimmer is a Lifereef skimmer. I used to extra height in the stand to get a 30" tall instead of 24" tall. It makes a big difference in performance and capacity. I have used many skimmers over the years and this one may be considered 'old-fashioned' technology, but it is easy to set and forget, runs on a single pump and produces excellent skimmate. They have also sealed it up so there is minimal noise and zero odor.
  • For lighting I got a 48" hybrid T5/LED fixture (Note that you do not have to have a fixture that is the entire length of your tank). This one gives you the ability to choose the LED fixture(s) you want. I ended up choosing two Radion XR15s G4 (now they have G5). Plus I got an inexpensive LED for the fuge.
  • The return pump I first got was the Maxspect Duo (I think no longer made). I have two 1/2" returns and I was intrigued by the dual impeller from a single magnet. It actually worked okay, but turned out not to be as powerful as I wanted. I ended up replacing with the Apex COR-20 (more on Apex below). For circulation in the tank I got a pair of Maxspect Gyres with a controller (it's from the 230 series that has been upgraded since).
  • I started off with an Apex controller (this was my first tank with a controller aside from light timers) and I have to say that it is a good decision and worth the expense, as long as you are willing to take the time and energy to learn how to program it and take advantage of all it can do. I would also advise purchasing the basic unit and getting used to it before adding a lot of additional items. I started with the controller and the ATO controller. I later added the integrated COR-20 return and a module that lets me control my lighting from the Apex.
  • Then there's a bunch of small stuff like a heater (or two), some pumps for water changes, misc. supplies, etc.
When it came time to add sand, rock and life to the tank I had researched and identified the best reef shop (in my opinion) in the area. And living rural, I was fortunate that was only 90 minutes each way. I bought the sand and rock first (we actually set up a footprint for the tank on a large table in the store and built a few layouts to find one we liked - you cant get that service online). I have purchased almost all of the inverts, fish and corals from them, but have ordered occasionally online. Over the course of two years I have crossed the $10K line as I slowly add corals to the display, as well as operational costs, but the initial start up was right in the middle of your budget.

I hope this is helpful. The key is to make this tank yours by choosing products that will fulfill your vision for your tank. Best wishes!
 
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PBnJOnWheat

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It can be done within that budget, as well as keeping everything in the stand. I was able to do that with a 150 gallon (5' by 2' by 2') two years ago now. You can get away with a tang in a 5' tank (I have an Atlantic Blue), although some will say 6' is better. If you want enough room for everything in the stand like I did, I would recommend you get a stand that is 36" tall instead of 30" tall. You will have more room to arrange everything and have access to it, plus you can get a taller skimmer in the space. And most people will not notice the difference in tank height.

You can purchase a complete setup as described above (or many others like it) or you can go best-of-breed. The issue with most of the complete set-ups is that one or more components are not exactly what I would prefer. I had one company provide the tank, stand, sump and basic plumbing that connected everything. I then chose the components based on my needs and research. Since you are interested in a mixed reef like I am, here are the components that I chose, and after two years I am happy with almost all my choices.
  • Tank, stand and sump/refugium was purchased from Custom Aquariums. They did an amazing job, packed it extremely well and had it delivered to my home. You can frequently find sales or discounts on their site and save a few $'s also. If you are putting everything in the stand, you may like their modular sump option where every compartment has a lid. I have no humidity issues in my stand, even on humid summer days. I keep a screen top on the display to provide evaporation and heat loss. I added a 5 gallon container for top off water.
  • Skimmer is a Lifereef skimmer. I used to extra height in the stand to get a 30" tall instead of 24" tall. It makes a big difference in performance and capacity. I have used many skimmers over the years and this one may be considered 'old-fashioned' technology, but it is easy to set and forget, runs on a single pump and produces excellent skimmate. They have also sealed it up so there is minimal noise and zero odor.
  • For lighting I got a 48" hybrid T5/LED fixture (Note that you do not have to have a fixture that is the entire length of your tank). This one gives you the ability to choose the LED fixture(s) you want. I ended up choosing two Radion XR15s G4 (now they have G5). Plus I got an inexpensive LED for the fuge.
  • The return pump I first got was the Maxspect Duo (I think no longer made). I have two 1/2" returns and I was intrigued by the dual impeller from a single magnet. It actually worked okay, but turned out not to be as powerful as I wanted. I ended up replacing with the Apex COR-20 (more on Apex below). For circulation in the tank I got a pair of Maxspect Gyres with a controller (it's from the 230 series that has been upgraded since).
  • I started off with an Apex controller (this was my first tank with a controller aside from light timers) and I have to say that it is a good decision and worth the expense, as long as you are willing to take the time and energy to learn how to program it and take advantage of all it can do. I would also advise purchasing the basic unit and getting used to it before adding a lot of additional items. I started with the controller and the ATO controller. I later added the integrated COR-20 return and a module that lets me control my lighting from the Apex.
  • Then there's a bunch of small stuff like a heater (or two), some pumps for water changes, misc. supplies, etc.
When it came time to add sand, rock and life to the tank I had researched and identified the best reef shop (in my opinion) in the area. And living rural, I was fortunate that was only 90 minutes each way. I bought the sand and rock first (we actually set up a footprint for the tank on a large table in the store and built a few layouts to find one we liked - you cant get that service online). I have purchased almost all of the inverts, fish and corals from them, but have ordered occasionally online. Over the course of two years I have crossed the $10K line as I slowly add corals to the display, as well as operational costs, but the initial start up was right in the middle of your budget.

I hope this is helpful. The key is to make this tank yours by choosing products that will fulfill your vision for your tank. Best wishes!
Very inspirational, especially starting out the whole process is so overwhelming because of the sheer ways to do this hobby, brands, experiences good/bad, etc knowing even with 5-10k is doable is reassuring
 

Bruce60

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Very inspirational, especially starting out the whole process is so overwhelming because of the sheer ways to do this hobby, brands, experiences good/bad, etc knowing even with 5-10k is doable is reassuring
Thanks, I have been helped many times by reading others posting...just trying to return the favor.
 

PBnJOnWheat

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Thanks, I have been helped many times by reading others posting...just trying to return the favor.
That’s what I’m saying!! I always try to respond, even if I don’t know a solution, to I responded posts because there’s so much information to gather, I don’t think anybody can know it all. Part of the hobby is asking for help, a diminishing practice among my generation lol
 

RobW

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I've been in the process of designing and planning a 275 gallon tank with a 100 gallon sump. With all the equipment, controllers, lighting, pumps, etc. You don't even want to know what that will cost. Heck, I just got my son a 30 gallon innovative marine setup for Christmas. I was like ooh! 450.00 for the tank. Well here we are just a month later and I've got 3 kessil a80's with a lighting controller, a 15 watt sterilizer with a dedicated dc pump, some plumbing stuff for the sterilizer, two ecotech mp10 powerheads, an auto top off system, rock, sand, crushed coral, additives and a little bit of livestock and im already creeping up on 3k. All this for a 4 year old! I must say though, he absolutely loves it!
 
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CMMorgan

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This is a great thread. After some sleep, maybe I'll have some answers. I just wanted to say welcome to the fishy family! I hope we can help you on your journey.
run away wild west GIF
 

PBnJOnWheat

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And now I'm working on the auto water changing system. Its never ending. Small price to pay for something that gives my son and I some bonding time and brings a little bit of peace and tranquility to my life.
FYI. If you are going for a high-end tank, you can easily spend 3 to 4 times the cost of the tank/stand/sump. A 3K tank can easily end up costing 9-12k if you go high-end equipment.
DIY STAND!!! Highly recommend!!
 

Super Fly

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if it was me, I'd buy a Prostar aquarium (comes w aluminum stand) and still have plenty of $ left over for light, skimmer, heater, lid etc.
 

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