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Researching before buying :-)


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Hi everyone! My name is Val and Im a researchalholic. I like to find out as much information before diving into the deep end. Which isnt always best, but for fish i find its the only way. Right now i have freshwater fish, nothing salt. We had a saltwater while i was in highschool, but my mom manned that ship. Being over 10 years ago I only remember we had clown fish and an anenome that kept getting caught in the filter. So im going to put my experience level as observer lol.


Saltwater tanks are a fascination for me, especially since I moved from Cali to Arkansas. We dont have beaches and i miss that ocean air smell.


What i want to do is figure out everything i need first. I want to spread the setup cost over the next year (or shorter) so im not dropping a ton of cash like i did with my freshwater tank. As much fun as that was, lets not haha.


Im thinking somewhere around the 20gal range. Id love to do a big massive reef, but my landlord has notified me i cant do anything too big or ill need to pay a pet deposit, and my rent will be upped. Hes so sweet *eyes rolling*. So, 20ish it is lol. As for fish, as long as i can have a goby ill be happy lol.


Ill be reading all the newbie posts (ive already started) and slowly developing a game plan. Expect a lot of questions, mainly on equipment. Yes i know the nitrogen cycle, and i know that live rock is a must. I am still figuring out all the terms, but google is my friend so if i dont understand ill look it up.


Books are on the top of the list, now i just need help on equipment to add to that list. I know bigger is better, but i do not see anything bigger than a 29 in my future, or a move. I like where i live even if the landlord is picky. So id like to stick around 20. Yes harder, much much harder, but i do love a good challenge lol.


On the list already:


Saltwater test kit

Tank- 20ish (type is where im stuck, glass? Acrylic? Rimless??)

Lights- need advice

Filter- need advice

Skimmer- need advice

Heater-might need advice

Substrate- no crushed coral (lol)

Refugium- need serious advice

Live rock- of course after setup


What do i need to add to the list, and is there anything DIY i can do myself. I dont mind getting my hands dirty, engineering is fun ;-)

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To buy it all, i have about 100$ extra play money each month. Thats factoring in my regular savings and emergency fund. I would like to spread it out as much as possible.

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Have you thought about if you want a basic glass tank or if you want an all in one tank? What tanks around the site do you like so I know what I might suggest for you to look into?

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The look i like the best is the rimless, without a hood. And since my current tank is a 20 high, id like a long this time. It seems tohave a more variety of fish unless this is different for saltwaterfish.

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Petcos are having their sales now so you can get a 20L for $20. And w/ that size you can put an AquaClear 70 on it, and you don't need a skimmer. You can put a small wavemaker like a Hydor Koralia on the end opposite the one w/ the hangover back filter. LIghts and sand and you're almost done. There are many gorgeous 20L on this website. There are ac couple 20L threads too I believe. Goby and a blenny and a shrimp.

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I think a 20 long from petco would be a good, cheap, option. If you wanted to go more expensive and rimless, you might want to look into the Innovative Marine tanks.


As for lighting, you should go with LEDs. Don't get a cheap fixture. Find something quality. You could either get a fixture, or a couple PAR38 bulbs.

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Lights are one thing i am slowly learning. I have stock LEDs on my freshwater tank, but honestly have no clue on watts for them. My plants are growing so far lol.


We don't have a petco close by, and i think with this tank im going to take the time to save up and go for the good stuff. I will look at innovative marine tanks :-) I already have a spreadsheet started, (did i mention im an excel freak as well as a researchalholic lol)

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Do your research buy once and save money that way. I have bought a lot of used things and still use a lot of them. You will need some type of filter maybe an aquaclear 110. A 20 gallon you won't need a skimmer on it if you keep up with water changes.


Get a refractometer and a good test kit before going to far.


LED lights get quality lights, you can go inexpensive and still get decent quality.


Haunt craigslist and local forums for rock. and things like that.

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Im just wondering with the all in one aquariums, it seems like most people mod or change things, would it be better to just get a tank and then pick and choose?

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Another option if you wanted a rimless tank would be the Mr. Aqua products:




They are reasonably priced and come in a wide selection. I am most likely going to replace the Spec V on my basement bar with one of these in the future. Like you, my plan for that build would be to try and keep it simple and as inexpensive as possible. That would mean an Aquaclear filter, no sump, no skimmer, and probably a WP10 for a wavermaker powerhead.


Without a skimmer water changes will be your friend. I would suggest your own RO/DI unit right from the beginning. Yes you can get away with getting water from a lfs or using distilled water from Wal-Mart (like I did) but having the ability to make your own water at home is so much nicer.

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Ooooooo they had some nice ones. It looks like I will be going for the 17.1 gallon tank. Its on the spreadsheet. :-) maybe i can catch it on a sale weekend.


An RO/DI unit? Ok, im going to have to do some googling for that one. I know RO, (did water purification in the military) but DI is new so to google I go :-)

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Im just wondering with the all in one aquariums, it seems like most people mod or change things, would it be better to just get a tank and then pick and choose?

The primary reason for a "all-in-one" is that the sump is built directly into the tank this eliminating the need for a seperate sump or huge hang on filters such as a aquaclear.


Most AIO tanks are good to start with and can be easily upgraded over time.

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Also ask your lfs about Deep Blue Professional. You can't get them online as they have to be ordered by your lfs but I was surprised at the good price. A plain 45g with rims was $199. They have basic tanks, reef ready tanks with an overflow, rimless tanks, just about any combo of those, cubes, rectangles, frag tanks.

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I went with a 35g reef ready 20in cube from deep blue. Paid like 225$ for tank and stand but you'd have to get a custom sump for it tho. GL with your future build! So many options lol

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Options options options lol. The spreadsheet is just getting longer lol. My mom is going to moving out to me within the next year and has a big tank she said i can have so i might just wait til she gets here. Its a 55, which i wont be able to keep at my place, but i can set up at her house. Or both lol. For some reason i find the fish/inverts i want the most are all bottom dwellers. Figures lol.

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