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Hello!

I have just begun to get into the world of saltwater aquariums, and would like to get feedback on my possible setup and stocking list!

Note: All these items are suggestions and thoughts, nor are final. This entire setup is intended to be under $350 or under, and would like to keep that with any setup.

 

Equipment

-Tank and Filter: Grreat Choice 10 Gallon Aquarium Kit

-Light: Orbit Marine Led 18"

-Heater: Eheim Jager (75 watts)

-ATO: Custom ATO found on eBay:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/AutoTopoff-Nano-Water-Level-Controller-for-Reef-Aquarium-Auto-Top-Off-ATO-/172782246208?hash=item283a9fd940:g:UOwAAOSwmLlYB52i

-Salt and Hydrometer: Both Instant Ocean brand

-Powerhead: Hydor Koralia Nano 425

-10 lbs of Live Sand and Dry Rock each: To buy at LFS

-Automaric Feeder: Ani Mate Automatic Aquarium Fish Feeder (would like to upgrade to Grasslin Rondomatic, later)

 

Stocking

I would like to be conservative with stocking, but still have a diverse reef. Here is what I will add, but in what order should I add them in?

Fish: Ocellaris Clownfish

CUC: Sexy Shrimp pair (I still haven't decided on what CUC should mainly consist of, but would like to avoid any types of crabs if nessesary)

Corals: I would just like a few soft corals, both because of looks and budget restraints for lighting.  A toadstool coral, GSP, and Xenia are what I've thought would look nice and fit in well.

 

Being new still comes with questions, and here are mine:

What should I feed my tank (staple and supplemental), and how often? I would like to use pellet foods, if I can.

With my general stocking plan, how much water will need to be changed, and how often (a biweekly 1.5  gallon water change is what I think will be necessary, but I would like to extend the time between water changes as much as possible)?

Will plain Instant Ocean salt supplement the tank?

 

I thank you for your time, and would like to hear from you soon! :D

- Generic Reefer

 

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Clown79   

Hello and Welcome,

 

It's very hard staying on a low budget in this hobby because there are a lot of other things that are needed that we don't think of when starting. That being said, you don't need the most expensive equipment or all the gadgets. You can have a very simple system with success.

 

I have done many budget tanks and often have upgraded later on which ends up costing more in the long run. 

 

I prefer simple systems, for me the less gadgets the less issues I can have.

 

Hopefully some of this helps you out.

 

Aquarium:

For the actual aquarium, I'd invest in a good quality aquarium that has a good reputation. Aqueon are one of the aquariums that are budget friendly that have a good reputation and their customer service is fantastic. You can buy one of these tanks for a decent price without the hood.

 

You don't need a hood for the tank. Running it without a hood is far better for the tank. Many ppl make mesh lids with window frame kits and mesh.

 

Filtration:

 

Getting an hob filter that is rated for larger than your tank is important. Many use Aqua clear on their tank, my personal favourite now is the seachem tidal for many reasons. 

We all use custom media in our filters, not the stock media which is more suited to FW rather than a reef. Filter floss, carbon, phosguard etc.

 

Heater:

 

The 50watt jager is good for 10g. I use it in a 15g.

 

Auto feeder:

unless for travel use, these aren't recommended as they often over feed the tank leading to nutrient issues

 

Feeding:

 

it's important to feed a variety of food. Pellets are good but 1-2 times a week frozen is also good to feed. 

I like the Spectrum Thera A pellets, the smallest size. For frozen I like mysis shrimp and for a treat brine.

 

Lighting:

 

The orbit is good for LPS and Softies. other budget friendly options to look into are Aquamaxx or Par38. I've used a par38, I now use an aquamaxx which is nice and marine depot usually has good sales.

 

Water changes:

 

10-20% weekly, especially on small tanks. I personally don't advise skimping on water changes, not only do they export nutrients but they also replenish the tanks needs with the salt. 

 

Supplements: if doing a soft coral tank, you may get away without dosing of Calcium and Alk. You won't need to do that until the corals are consuming these elements.

 

I wouldn't suggest on a hydrometer. They are not reliable for reading salinity, too many factors effect the results. A refractometer is faster, easier, and far more reliable.

 

I can't help with the ato, I top up manually.

 

 

Other things you will need:

 

Water - no tap water. RODI or distilled only

Test kits - Ammonia and nitrate for cycling, then calcium, alkalinity, magnesium, and phosphates after cycling

Gravel vacuum, turkey baster, filter media, media bags,  buckets, additonal cheap powerhead for saltwater making,

 

if using dry rock for cycling, you will need to dose pure ammonia and bacteria (dr tim's) to start the cycle

 

 

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Mark1313   

Hi, 

I had that hydrometer from IO, I wasn't all that happy with it. I found this https://www.saltwateraquarium.com/salinity-refractometer-w-calibration-fluid-generic/ not a big price difference but for the month that I've had it, I love it. There are better but I liked the price of this and glad I picked it up. 

 

Everything I've read sexy shrimp do better in odd numbered groups. Some say they attack their coral, some say they don't. My tank isn't ready yet but I have 5-7 in mind for myself. I'm thinking if I take care of them and feed em they'll be fine. We'll see. 

Good Luck

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Lula_Mae   

:welcome: to Nano-Reef!  Sounds like you've got a good tentative plan in place.  I would recommend you go with a plain 10 gallon tank like Aqueon rather than a kit as you don't need the hood and the filters are pretty junk.  If you use a HOB (I do recommend at least having one on hand to run carbon if needed but they are not strictly necessary imo) I recommend an AquaClear, a 30, 50, or 70 would do fine for this size tank.  The light is fine and I think you could support LPS on it too.  Sexies are reported to do better in odd numbered groups, as Mark said, and have been known to eat zoas and other corals, so keep that in mind.  You absolutely can have a snail-only clean up crew, I avoid hermits cause I find them to be little jerks lol (got one accidentally when I ordered snails recently and the darn thing killed the other snail AND my porcelain crab!).  A beautiful, peaceful crab you may look at eventually is a porcelain, I loved mine.  When they open their fans in the water column, it's neat to watch.

 

I'd go with a refractometer instead of hydrometer, they can be had inexpensively on Amazon.  I've heard people say to get one intended for aquaria and not beer making but I really don't know what the difference is lol.  For a budget ATO you may want to look at a hamster bottle ATO, @Nano sapiens uses one on his tank.  Instant Ocean is a perfectly fine salt.  To help stretch time between water changes, look into adding macroalgae to the tank.  They uptake nutrients and can help in that regard.  You can get away with a 50w heater in a 10 gallon unless you have the 75 on hand already, then may as well use it!  Everything @Clown79 said is good advice!

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you just can’t skip or skimp on water changes. i think that’s the most valuable and biggest step to success that there is. don’t overfeed. you’ll kill things. this is probably the biggest thing to do if you were dead set on stretching water changes. so i would get an extra heater and extra powerhead for mixing. you just dump it in the bucket then have dinner and go back to it. 

 

i will probably be lynched for saying this but don’t waste money on a test kit. i’ve not used mine since my tank cycled. this is possible because i do a weekly thirty percent water change. i watch the health and happiness of the critters. i watch for algae and slime. if you have a friend with a kit borrow it. if you have an lfs that will test just do it there. it’s a horrible waste of thirty dollars. 

 

instant ocean is just fine but i definitely noticed a change for the better when i switched to red sea coral pro salt. it’s affordable and if you have a tiny tank it will last for at least two months. probably more. 

 

i agree with everything everyone else said. Refractometer on Amazon is $19. sign up for a free trial of prime and order all the stuff you need and get free shipping then cancel. 

 

This is place here is a godsend and the nano reef bible. the prophets have spoken. 🙌🏽

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Mark1313   
20 minutes ago, thespinningsadhu said:

you just can’t skip or skimp on water changes. i think that’s the most valuable and biggest step to success that there is. don’t overfeed. you’ll kill things. this is probably the biggest thing to do if you were dead set on stretching water changes. so i would get an extra heater and extra powerhead for mixing. you just dump it in the bucket then have dinner and go back to it. 

 

i will probably be lynched for saying this but don’t waste money on a test kit. i’ve not used mine since my tank cycled. this is possible because i do a weekly thirty percent water change. i watch the health and happiness of the critters. i watch for algae and slime. if you have a friend with a kit borrow it. if you have an lfs that will test just do it there. it’s a horrible waste of thirty dollars. 

 

This is place here is a godsend and the nano reef bible. the prophets have spoken. 🙌🏽

The other shoe... I woulda and did, die w/o test kits. Yep great lfs, who tested what I asked for "fine" . Then the generic lfs who I'm sure,  stuck a strip in and said, "you're great!!" Meanwhile I whacked out some livestock doing only water changes. Knew I had a problem, cause everything that went in with fins croaked... Where's the problem? This is after a 8 week period of coral and inverts doin great! Oh your water is fantastic. Lol nope. 

 

Best thing I ever did was spend the $ on test kits. Now I know where my problem is, let's fix it. If I could have spent $30 on a test kit and felt comfortable, I would have. Not the case,my happiness cost a lot more then 30. Test kits are your friend, know what ya got before you do anything. Chasing problems because your lfs said you have a problem or worse, they said you're fine, leads to heartbreak and friends lost. 

Oh just water change and it'll be fine, wrong. I did specific 25-50% water changes religiously. Problems never went away because I wasn't sure what the problem was.

After what I felt like was a good amount of time, over 2 months, best thing I coulda did was leave it the hell alone. It'll balance if you stop. Then once you have a balance...go to your regular water changes, get the balance first. After 2+ months I thought I had that balance but I like to add, corals, inverts, yap yap yap. You'll see the balance happen with a test kit, or many test kits in my case. 

 

Everything you add or touch changes that balance. Go to the lfs after every move to test? Or know what just changed for yourself with test kits almost immediately. It Answers, do I need to fix it or leave the damn tank alone. In my case leave it alone lol

 

Sorry that's so long, I'm a bit long winded, I'm also new to saltwater. I only offer that up so maybe someone who reads won't do what I did. 

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21 minutes ago, Mark1313 said:

The other shoe... I woulda and did, die w/o test kits. Yep great lfs, who tested what I asked for "fine" . Then the generic lfs who I'm sure,  stuck a strip in and said, "you're great!!" Meanwhile I whacked out some livestock doing only water changes. Knew I had a problem, cause everything that went in with fins croaked... Where's the problem? This is after a 8 week period of coral and inverts doin great! Oh your water is fantastic. Lol nope. 

 

Best thing I ever did was spend the $ on test kits. Now I know where my problem is, let's fix it. If I could have spent $30 on a test kit and felt comfortable, I would have. Not the case,my happiness cost a lot more then 30. Test kits are your friend, know what ya got before you do anything. Chasing problems because your lfs said you have a problem or worse, they said you're fine, leads to heartbreak and friends lost. 

Oh just water change and it'll be fine, wrong. I did specific 25-50% water changes religiously. Problems never went away because I wasn't sure what the problem was.

After what I felt like was a good amount of time, over 2 months, best thing I coulda did was leave it the hell alone. It'll balance if you stop. Then once you have a balance...go to your regular water changes, get the balance first. After 2+ months I thought I had that balance but I like to add, corals, inverts, yap yap yap. You'll see the balance happen with a test kit, or many test kits in my case. 

 

Everything you add or touch changes that balance. Go to the lfs after every move to test? Or know what just changed for yourself with test kits almost immediately. It Answers, do I need to fix it or leave the damn tank alone. In my case leave it alone lol

 

Sorry that's so long, I'm a bit long winded, I'm also new to saltwater. I only offer that up so maybe someone who reads won't do what I did. 

what ended up being wrong?

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Mark1313   

What I believed to be patience. Wasn't. 

My rock, water, sand all came from a great lfs demo tank.  I gave it a 2ish weeks, they tested my water, didn't have much of a cycle because of the above.

2 weeks, added a couple of coral that are doing great, a few zebra hermits, all great. 

At week 3-4 added a lot more coral (which are still thriving) 

Week 6ish goby/pistol (dead now) 

Yap yap yap

Damn my tank is looking stellar after week 5, corals are great! Let's toss in some cool things, goby/pistol awesome for a short time. Then not so great dead. 

 

Geez I make such a short answer long. Nitrates were thru the roof because I kept adding. No good cuc. Kh/Alk off the chart. See above. A little bit of Everything cause my patience did not equal my tank patience . I woulda known that if I tested myself instead of asking an lfs to do it. 

 

I won't pretend to know anything , I honestly only commented because I don't want someone to think like me and not realize self tests can help. 

40 minutes ago, thespinningsadhu said:

what ended up being wrong?

 

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Mark1313   

Lol is it like bad form to link yourself? Bah whatever. Don't do what I did.

That should answer a few questions. Like spin said, never ever overfeed. 

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Clown79   

I agree. Testing is essential, especially with corals.

 

Weekly water changes doesn't prevent daily consumption of alk and ca, no matter the size of waterchange. Only daily or multiple weekly water changes can do that. Or dosing.

To dose properly and prevent fluctuations, testing is essential.

 

 

When there is something that doesn't seem right in the tank, testing can often be the answer.

 

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Thank you for all your input, and I hope to implement your advice. I have a spare 10 aquarium (I hoped to get a new one because the back of it was black, but I changed my mind on that), and will get to work as quick as I can! 

One last question; for stocking, what snails and how many do you recommend (and are there any that reproduce within the tank?) plus any beginner macroalgae and advice ?

Thanks once again!

-GenericReefer :D 

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Lula_Mae   
3 hours ago, GenericReefer said:

Thank you for all your input, and I hope to implement your advice. I have a spare 10 aquarium (I hoped to get a new one because the back of it was black, but I changed my mind on that), and will get to work as quick as I can! 

One last question; for stocking, what snails and how many do you recommend (and are there any that reproduce within the tank?) plus any beginner macroalgae and advice ?

Thanks once again!

-GenericReefer :D 

Try a combination.  Nassarius are good sand stirrers and detritus eaters.  Ceriths, trochus, astrea are a few algae eaters and it's good to have a variety if you can.  Check out ReefCleaners for a good source of CUC.

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