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Heardjya

Deciding on first tank - Nano

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Heardjya

Hello all,

 

I'm brand new to the hobby. It has interested me for about 6 months now, and I think it's time I get my hands wet, both metaphorically and literally.

 

I'm primarily wanting to create a tank for coral reef. I have looked into numerous tanks, and have my final 2 picks. The jbj rimless 10g tank and the Innovative Marine NUVO 20g tank. I'm asking for opinions on which would be better in the end, for me. 

 

To start, my budget is set to a maximum of $1K startup including coral.

So far, the coral I have decided on are Zoanthids, Blastomussa, Pulsing Xenia, Scolymia, and Wellsophyllia (later on). I'm open to more ideas, but trying to avoid coral who grow significantly quicker, and coral like toadstool, who need significant space to really be happy while blocking light below them. I'd rather stay away from coral that shock as well.. but open to them. Some that add more motion, might be nice.

 

My main concern is lighting, flow, temperature, and filtration. Any experience with these two tanks and have suggested upgrades to go ahead and get with your suggested tank. I'm looking at getting the full start up kit for both tanks.

 

Currently my reasoning between the two are:

 

jbj - Cleaner design for my modern decor, would look more balanced/perfect in appearance with table it is to be on top. Clear top

 

IM -  More space for more coral, more forgiving on maintaining. Will look awkward, but steady on table. Two LED lighting for more controlled PAR? Don't like the meshed top.

 

I have a cat, that's why the top is relevant. She's well trained, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

 

Location of table will receive very little natural light.

 

Is there a major difference in time requirements to maintain, or steady heating? Are the LEDs included sufficient? Would it be easier to maintain the ecosystem by adding marine life? Don't know where to start with those, but if I did get any.. an arrow crab would definitely be apart of my tank.

 

Also, general purchases like a scraper to clean sides and front, or specific testing kits, etc?

 

Any and all help is greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you

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Han Solo

Well for one let me say my cats don't mess with my tank once they figure out it was saltwater. One is a bengal cat who loves water, too. And either way you will soon learn that having a full cover will not be good cause it restricts oxygen exchange. Plastic mesh can work for this though.

 

I suggest though you go on Amazon and find some good beginner saltwater books. The best thing you can do to learn is start with advice from professionals and have a consist source of info from a few authors. They will answer all your basic questions about light, etc. I would never have learn enough just browsing forums and videos. It's good to have a tome that you can reference if you need. There are plenty of books just dealing with corals as well. 

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SelectedByNature
22 minutes ago, Han Solo said:

Well for one let me say my cats don't mess with my tank once they figure out it was saltwater. One is a bengal cat who loves water, too. And either way you will soon learn that having a full cover will not be good cause it restricts oxygen exchange. Plastic mesh can work for this though.

 

I suggest though you go on Amazon and find some good beginner saltwater books. The best thing you can do to learn is start with advice from professionals and have a consist source of info from a few authors. They will answer all your basic questions about light, etc. I would never have learn enough just browsing forums and videos. It's good to have a tome that you can reference if you need. There are plenty of books just dealing with corals as well. 

More knowledge is a necessity but I wouldn't cut into the 1k budget with reading material if OP is firm on that cap.

 

Depends on the budget though. A lot of costs are recurring and I assume those are not in the budget? (Test kits, food, filter media, dosing, power consumption, etc.)

 

Anyway. I find it hard not to suggest the bigger tank for no other reason than it's size. More wiggle room for errors in water chemistry. More room for stuff (YOU'RE GOING TO WANT THIS). It's hard for a beginner to predict growth patterns exactly (granted you seem to have a leg up considering shading of leather corals etc).

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LX20000

I know you narrowed down to two.. but did you consider the IM 14.... it's just like an IM 10 in width and height, but would be 6 inches deeper if you look in the short side (same size as front of IM 10), or 8 inches wider if you look in the side. 

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Han Solo
Han Solo

Also best book on corals specifically on the market, by far. Lot's of real scientific information and the most comprehensive of any of these books. 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Aquarium-Corals-Selection-Husbandry-Natural/dp/1890087475/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1890087475&pd_rd_r=84QDPM9G0NY73AVYTR67&pd_rd_w=DAlzx&pd_rd_wg=Hi8eE&psc=1&refRID=84QDPM9G0NY73AVYTR67

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LX20000

Remember everything in budget

 

Tank - $200  (suggesting IM 14, IM 10 would save $100... but 10 is SMALL)

Heater - $30

Light - $250 (IM Prime and mount)

Test Kits - $100

Gravel - $15

Live Rock - $100

Extra Filter Socks - $40

Carbon/Media/etc - $75

Salt mix - $50

Refractometer - $30

This is basically $900 right away..... and no coral... and you CAN'T skimp on the light if you want any challenging corals.

 

And could still get Skimmer ($100), Reactor ($100), more test kits (like for Phosphorus) ($75).....

 

$1000 for a startup when you need all equipment is tight for a 20 gallon for sure... especially if you get good LED light

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SelectedByNature
2 minutes ago, LX20000 said:

Remember everything in budget

 

Tank - $200  (suggesting IM 14, IM 10 would save $100... but 10 is SMALL)

Heater - $30

Light - $250 (IM Prime and mount)

Test Kits - $100

Gravel - $15

Live Rock - $100

Extra Filter Socks - $40

Carbon/Media/etc - $75

Salt mix - $50

Refractometer - $30

This is basically $900 right away..... and no coral... and you CAN'T skimp on the light if you want any challenging corals.

 

And could still get Skimmer ($100), Reactor ($100), more test kits (like for Phosphorus) ($75).....

 

$1000 for a startup when you need all equipment is tight for a 20 gallon for sure... especially if you get good LED light

The painful reality of the hobby. And this is where some Know-it-all chimes in with how that is just the tip of the iceberg as coral and fish will potentially double that. 

 

- Some Know-it-all

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LX20000

You are more than correct..... a few hammers, frogs, zoa and you add $300-$400 right there....

 

Other things I forgot... a good power strip, a GFI of some sort to plug power strip into... YOU DO KNOW YOU MUST HAVE A GFI, CORRECT ?

 

Add $60 more for this..... and maybe an InTank basket.... $50 more..... and floss.... and siphon and 5 gallon buckets for mixing.... and another heater and pump to mix and heat your salt water for water changes....

 

OH YA... RO/DI... YOU MUST HAVE RO/DI UNIT!!!!  So add $200 more for that stuff.......

 

$1,600 is probably a more realistic estimate.... 2nd tank is cheaper....

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Heardjya

I'm on lunch break, absolutely astonished with the responses. It's great to know how the community is around this hobby. Thank you, it's quite reassuring. 

 

Okay, response time!

 

The 1k is purely set up. Not reoccuring. It can be flexible, if needed, but trying to avoid purchasing unnecessary upgrades from the get go. I'd like to be sitting with good (relatively), reliable equipment though. An example would be something along the lines of say.. scuba gear. While having a dive watch is pretty norm, you can do very well without it. It requires more attention.. but gages and charts are sufficient.. Or bouldering. Having highly aggressive shoes aren't necessary, while they do help. I'm trying to avoid those types of purchases initially. The latest and greatest can be bought when I'm fully aware of what I'm buying.

 

The full start up kit for the IM20 (about $400) includes:

  • (2) SKKYE Lights Aquarium LEDs
  • 6mm High Clarity Low Iron Glass
  • Mesh Screen Top with Clips
  • Dual Built-in Overflows
  • Rubber Leveling Mat
  • (2) - Removable Filter Socks
  • (1) - 11W 110v/60Hz 211 GPH Return Pumps
  • Includes: Flexible hose and return elbows with Dual Directional Flow Nozzles

The full start up on the Jbj10 (about $170) features:

  • Low-Iron Glass
  • Crystal Clear Viewing
  • Raised Pedestal or Feet
  • Removable Bio Filter
  • Removable Filter Cartridge
  • Designated Heater Column in Filter
  • Lyra LED Light
  • Feather Touch 2 Channel Controls
  • Low Wattage

I'm sure some of what I just pasted is kind of a given like the "low-iron glass" but something like the LED is noted. Are those sufficient/adaquately healthy for the coral I've listed?

 

As for the books, I wouldn't put something of that scale in my budget.. those would come from a different, set aside budget.. so I'll look into those. Thanks for the multiple recommendations.

 

Operation/reoccuring costs will be handled separately.

 

I did look at the IM14, but couldn't find a whole kit. Plus I prefer my equipment on the back side.

 

Also, it might help to have what the acronyms mean. I'm not up to speed with the lingo. Haha, I can find out fairly easily if you prefer to not though.

 

Again, thank you everyone so far.

 

 

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LX20000

GFI - Ground Fault Interrupter... keeps you from being electrocuted if something like heater cracks

RO/DI - Reverse Osmosis Deionization unit, purifies your tap water.  You CAN'T use tap water and be successful.  You need RO/DI.  Figure $150 min.  DON'T SKIP THIS ITEM... really, it will make you 10x more likely to have a good startup.  If you can't afford it right away, see if you dealer sells RO/DI water, many do.

 

Whatever you do, get the biggest tank that will fit where you want it.... 10 gallon is very very small, and stocking in Marine tanks is much lower than freshwater.

 

Will the 25 fit on your desk ??

https://www.marinedepot.com/Innovative_Marine_25_Gallon_Fusion_Lagoon_Aquarium_Nano_Tanks-Innovative_Marine-0I05253-FIAQNC-vi.html

 

 

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Heardjya

Perfect. Thanks.

 

Ro/DI water is sold at my local store.. the owner is really awesome. He treats each customers aquarium as it would be his own, as far as care and advice. It's the starting up that differs from person to person.

 

Consider GFI on the list to buy, now.

 

20 gallon is most my HOA will allow.

 

Something else I saw and forgot to note in my response.. the extra heater for the water I get, great idea I never thought of.

I do have experience mixing distilled salt water, if I need to in a pinch.. but I'll probably never resort to that.. I'd just buy water from store.

 

One thing I was considering with the two tank options is the 20g comes with 2 LEDs.. which means my PAR rating is potentially higher in the middle (where the light crosses).. allowing more diversity in what I can have..

 

Also, great to know about the cat situation. All I'd have to worry about is shedding, then. But that's easy.

 

 

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SelectedByNature
1 hour ago, LX20000 said:

GFI - Ground Fault Interrupter... keeps you from being electrocuted if something like heater cracks

RO/DI - Reverse Osmosis Deionization unit, purifies your tap water.  You CAN'T use tap water and be successful.  You need RO/DI.  Figure $150 min.  DON'T SKIP THIS ITEM... really, it will make you 10x more likely to have a good startup.  If you can't afford it right away, see if you dealer sells RO/DI water, many do.

 

Whatever you do, get the biggest tank that will fit where you want it.... 10 gallon is very very small, and stocking in Marine tanks is much lower than freshwater.

 

Will the 25 fit on your desk ??

https://www.marinedepot.com/Innovative_Marine_25_Gallon_Fusion_Lagoon_Aquarium_Nano_Tanks-Innovative_Marine-0I05253-FIAQNC-vi.html

 

 

Well I mean you can purchase RO/DI water from your local fish store (LFS) most likely, or use distilled grocery store bought water. For the size of the system you want I find an RODI unit to be a huge investment that will eat up your budget.

 

I shouldn't say this, but you can be successful without using RODI water - but that comes at a price. If you love the hobby and start getting fancy coral (you will), then you'll have handicapped (is this expression even PC??) yourself from the start by using subpar (potentially harmful) water. I bought an RODI about 2 months into my first tank.

 

I thought of another potential initial cost though, a stand. Not sure if your listed kits come with one?

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LX20000

For GFCI.... you can get at Home Depot

 

Plug this into wall, then your power strip into this...

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Defiant-2-ft-In-Line-GFCI-Cord-30338213/203741466

 

or this one plugs right into wall, but might cover another outlet

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Defiant-Plug-In-GFCI-Adapter-3-Wire-Grounding-30339036/203741464

 

RO/DI units are easy to run and set up... I really suggest you think about getting one...

http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/75gpd-4-stage-value-ro-di-system-bulk-reef-supply.html

 

As far as light goes, remember it is not just PAR, but also the spectrum of the light... you have far more control with higher end lights to enhance blues, etc. Just be realistic with coral choices without high end lights... stick with the easier soft and LPS.  SPS would be a stretch without quality lights.

3 minutes ago, SelectedByNature said:

Well I mean you can purchase RO/DI water from your local fish store (LFS) most likely, or use distilled grocery store bought water. For the size of the system you want I find an RODI unit to be a huge investment that will eat up your budget.

 

I shouldn't say this, but you can be successful without using RODI water - but that comes at a price. If you love the hobby and start getting fancy coral (you will), then you'll have handicapped (is this expression even PC??) yourself start using subpar (potentially harmful) water. I bought an RODI about 2 months into my first tank.

 

I thought of another potential initial cost though, a stand. Not sure if your listed kits come with one?

ehhh.... it depends on his water.. if he has lots of phosphates and other nutrients, his tank will be an algae monster.... I REALLY suggest not doing tap water. 

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LX20000
9 minutes ago, SelectedByNature said:

 then you'll have handicapped (is this expression even PC??)

That would be "Successful Reef Tank Challenged"

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SelectedByNature
9 minutes ago, LX20000 said:

For GFCI.... you can get at Home Depot

 

Plug this into wall, then your power strip into this...

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Defiant-2-ft-In-Line-GFCI-Cord-30338213/203741466

 

or this one plugs right into wall, but might cover another outlet

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Defiant-Plug-In-GFCI-Adapter-3-Wire-Grounding-30339036/203741464

 

RO/DI units are easy to run and set up... I really suggest you think about getting one...

http://www.bulkreefsupply.com/75gpd-4-stage-value-ro-di-system-bulk-reef-supply.html

 

As far as light goes, remember it is not just PAR, but also the spectrum of the light... you have far more control with higher end lights to enhance blues, etc. Just be realistic with coral choices without high end lights... stick with the easier soft and LPS.  SPS would be a stretch without quality lights.

ehhh.... it depends on his water.. if he has lots of phosphates and other nutrients, his tank will be an algae monster.... I REALLY suggest not doing tap water. 

Agreed. I never used tap. But my LFS RODI water had more TDS (total dissolved solids) than my tap water so I didn't know what I was getting either way. 

 

TDS meter is 10$ on Amazon BTW. :)

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Heardjya

I'll get my RODI water at my LFS, initially.. after a couple months.. I'll consider making my own. GFCI is a fantastic idea. Safety is key, in my book. How well do the SKKYE and Lyre LEDs I mentioned work. Reviews seem decent.. what would be the minimal "good with control of light spectrum" LED? That may change my opinion on getting a starter kit.. and just do a full part by part setup.. or sell the included LEDs assuming price is possible.

 

I have considered getting a stand, but don't really have a good location for extra furniture, like that..

-----------------------------------------------------

Any opinions, as far as coral, to add to my already mentioned list or is that a good start, and I'll grow from there...?

 

Also, to what degree does adding fish/crab/shrimp change the maintenance and overall health of my ecosystem? My focus is coral.. but it's still something to consider.

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lkoechle

Just buy a gfci outlet and install it.  Like the ones you have in your kitchen or in your bathroom.  It's not hard.  We do that.  And if we can't, then we go the more complex route and replace the breaker.  

 

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-15-Amp-125-Volt-Duplex-Self-Test-Slim-GFCI-Outlet-White-R02-GFNT1-0KW/206001533

 

Save yourself the space and the cord.

 

I would go with the IM and switch the pump for something like a Tunze or Sicce.  Buy a heater, and an additional source of flow (or not, it depends on your corals) If you're savvy and patient, you can find deals on corals so don't get too hung up on that.  Join a local reefing group, lots will be willing to make deals.  

 

You don't need a heater or pump for your salt mixing.  Those are nice to have but not necessary (and if you replace the IM pump, you can use that for a mixing pump).

 

Get an ammonia badge by seachem and an API saltwater kit for testing.

 

IM Tank- $400

Tripp Lite Surge Protector-$30

gfci outlet- $13

Sicce 1.0- $56

Heater-  $27

Ammonia Alert- $7

API Saltwater- $27

 

Buy water from your LFS or invest in an RODI unit, IMO buy a good one or don't buy one at all and save.  Don't waste money on a crap RODI unit.  You can also buy distilled and mix salt.

 

You can buy egg crate (light diffuser) and zip ties and build your own media rack.  It won't be as good, but it will save you money, or you can buy IM's media basket for $25 or inTank's for $48

 

Carbon and floss and you're good to go really.

If your over all focus is coral, your light is your primary investment.  I would go with a NanoBox for that.

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lkoechle

And start dry to save money.  

 

Dry rock from reef-cleaners, bagged sand or go bare bottom.

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SelectedByNature
13 minutes ago, Heardjya said:

 

Any opinions, as far as coral, to add to my already mentioned list or is that a good start, and I'll grow from there...?

 

Also, to what degree does adding fish/crab/shrimp change the maintenance and overall health of my ecosystem? My focus is coral.. but it's still something to consider.

People typically find those lights to be lackluster.

 

 Corals really depend on personal preference, most of which is only learned from having particular corals.

 

Fish waste is important for coral growth IMHO. You want some nitrate/phos.

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lkoechle
1 minute ago, SelectedByNature said:

Fish waste is important for coral growth IMHO. You want some nitrate/phos.

This.  I have to feed my fish less tank because my corals are suuuuuuppppper unhappy with low nitrates.  And I have an sps tank.  LPS and softies like things even dirtier.

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Heardjya

Man, I'm glad I posted...

 

So.. yes to fish/other? Arrow crab is really my favorite I've seen thus far. Would it have enough space in the 20g? And how many and what types would be good? That's one portion of this whole hobby that I've done very little research on, comparingly.

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lkoechle

yes to fish.   If you want to keept it simple, you cant go wrong with a paur of clowns.  Captive bred, easy to feed and interesting behaviors. 

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Heardjya

Sounds simple enough.. my LFS should be able to easily guide me through their requirements.

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LX20000

Lights are one of those items where people swear by one brand or another.....

 

I like Aqua Illumination myself.  I like the fact that I can individually control like 8 separate colors, and I can control them wirelessly from my phone, tablet, PC or even from the web.  In addition I can set up a complete lighting "day" with sunrise, sunset, varying amounts of light through the day, and a moonlight at night.  And I get all this for $215 with the AI Prime HD light (make sure it is an HD version if you look used). 

 

Many like Kessil, but these have very straightforward kelvin and intensity controls, no PC/phone/wireless connection without addition purchase.

 

Many like EcoTech Radion. 

 

Also a thought... if you think you will likely get a bigger tank, then buy a light that has good coverage even for a bigger tank.

 

For instance, if you were going to stay with a 20, an AI Prime could do the job especially for the center 50% of the tank.  If you knew you would have a 40 or 50 at some later time, maybe spend a bit more and get the AI Hydra 26 and run it at lower power....

 

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