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hotdrop

Whats the Current Buy Once Cry Once 20g and under setup

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Newbie here trying to understand what to budget for and what kind of setup I need. I dont want to cheap out and get stuff that ill want to get rid of or replace immediately, but also trying to avoid gold plated stuff with unnecessary stuff like wifi and bluetooth. What do you guys recommend as the current best value 20g or smaller setup is (leaning towards rimless but i can be convinced otherwise). I want to mostly focus on learning to grow corrals and I plan to keep the tank minimally stocked with fish (except maybe some cleaner fish if recommended).

 

Is an all in one  the way to go?

Whats the current newbie recommended setup based on current available hardware? 

 

My plan is to buy high quality used parts where possible to help reduce costs a bit so maybe building around a single AI prime light unless you guys think that's overkill for a newbie. I want to spend the money upfront on things that make maintenance easier and make the system more stable. Trying to avoid sand for that reason as well. 

 

Id like an ATO but im not sure if I need or would benefit from a refugerum, sump, skimmer or controller suggestions?   

 

 

 

 

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I like my WaterBox 20 AIO. Perfect footprint for a single Prime. Many others would also recommend the IM Fusion 20, though 2 primes are arguably better for the fusion.

 

All you need beyond the tank is Water, Salt, Heat, Flow, and Light to grow coral.

 

Buy an RO/DI setup and ATO from the start.

 

Edited to add ATO. Stability is king, you’re right. Go watch the BRS/WWC method series on YouTube. It’s chocked full of good information. 

 

 

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I had sumps and now have AIOs...no real difference that effects my tank. I just have smaller equipment in the AIO. It is just personal preference.

 

I have a IM 25 Lagoon which works with a prime.

 

Personally I would suggest quality lighting and skimp somewhere else. 

 

Since you don't plan on a lot of fish or sand...don't go crazy on filteration or you will starve your coral.

 

Good light

Good flow

RODI

Filter floss

Bagged Carbon

Heater controller is around 30 bucks

 

 

The rest can be added later. ATO is convenient but if you can top off twice a day I wouldn't sweat it yet.

 

Skimmer can be added later if needed. Not every tank needs one.

 

 

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There's lots of ways to do a reef tank.

 

You could do a standard 20g with hang on filter, heater, powerhead ane light.

 

The all in ones are nice. I love mine. I also have the lagoon.

 

The 20g IM is a really nice tank.

 

You can run it simply with a light, heater, powerhead, and media baskets.

 

Keep media easy. Use filter floss, bag your own good carbon, purigen if you want.

 

 

Lighting is important. If you want corals, it's very important.  You can do budget lighting but some are better than others.

 

These are popular lights

 

AI Prime HD

Kessil

Nanobox

Current orbit

Mars aqua

2 Abi blue par 38 23w.

 

Another way to go is the fluval evo.

 

Comes with lights, you will need to buy or make a media basket, add a Powerhead ane heater.

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In terms of bang for buck, buy once AIO the IM Nuvo 20 is tough to beat for the price.  It doesn't come with a light but that gives you the opportunity to buy a really nice light without wasting money on a light that you are just going to upgrade anyways.  They periodically have it for $180:

 

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/20-nuvo-fusion-aquarium-innovative-marine.html

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All good suggestions above.  The IM Nuvo 10 gallon is extremely popular, and with good reason, it's got a small footprint, lots of available accessories, and a good size for getting started, plus very affordable.  I have the IM 14 Peninsula which was used in the 2017 summer 100 Days of Nano contest.  This is my first AIO, for all these years I've done standard tanks with a HOB and powerhead and like the simplicity of that.

 

If you've got the cash, the Red Sea Reefer Nano is a very nice setup, but I might suggest something less pricey for a first setup in case you realize it's not the hobby for you.

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1 hour ago, Lula_Mae said:

 

If you've got the cash, the Red Sea Reefer Nano is a very nice setup, but I might suggest something less pricey for a first setup in case you realize it's not the hobby for you.

What’s an appropriate price for a used Red Sea Nano 20? There is one on offer up but the guy wanted $600 for it which is way too much imo.  Sadly missed an IM10 for $40 while I was out of town :(

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1 hour ago, hotdrop said:

What’s an appropriate price for a used Red Sea Nano 20? There is one on offer up but the guy wanted $600 for it which is way too much imo.  Sadly missed an IM10 for $40 while I was out of town 😞

Honestly, I don't even know what they go for new, I just know they are :bling:!  Even new, IM10 is only a hundred bucks, which is a great price point for its versatility.

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37 minutes ago, Lula_Mae said:

Honestly, I don't even know what they go for new, I just know they are :bling:!  Even new, IM10 is only a hundred bucks, which is a great price point for its versatility.

700-800 on amazon. I don’t really understand what you get for 2-4x as much cost 

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Just now, hotdrop said:

700-800 on amazon. I don’t really understand what you get for 2-4x as much cost 

Bragging rights? :tongueout:  They're nice setups and all-inclusive.  I believe it includes stand and light, sump, plumbing, pumps...all that adds up (I may be wrong about stand/light...been a while since I looked at the Reefers cuz they are way outta my budget lol).

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I agree with everything else posted so far, it's all good advice. In particular @Tamberav's list of priorities of where to spend your money is spot on.

 

From what you describe, it sounds like an AIO would be better for you than a sumped system. A sump gives more flexibility and gives more water volume but is more complex to set up and run. 

 

I think you've got the right philosophy, spend the money to get the stuff you should get in the first place and don't waste it on stuff you'll have to replace within a year. But...as a newbie, you'll quickly learn there are seven thousand ways to run a tank, and until you actually get some experience, you won't really know what fits your personality the best.

 

Some people love to spend time every day on doing stuff with the tank. Other just want to feed it and look at it, and do some maintenance once a week with the occasional algae scrape in between. You can see how one person might say an ATO is a luxury and another might say it's a necessity. So get the minimum you need to get started and recognize you'll spend some time and money adding and upgraded as you go. Besides, that's part of the fun of this hobby 🙂

 

I don't personally have experience withe Waterbox, as they're new on the market, but they look good and are getting a good reputation. I have an IM10 and an IM40 (which is just a taller version of Tamberav's IM25), and they're good tanks.

 

The biggest real difference is for a 20g, the Waterbox is a cube, and the IM is a rectangle. That affects how well a single LED light will cover the entire tank, which is why some people say you might need two lights. But with two lights, you get less shadowing and more even coverage throughout the tank, which is the biggest limitation of LED lights.

 

What kind of corals do you want to keep? If you think you might want SPS, then you will need more flow and more light, and stable parameters are more critical which means an ATO, dosing, skimming, etc. may be more important to you in the long run.

 

If you don't care as much about SPS, just about any decent light, like those on the list from @Clown79, will be fine. And the flow you get from the stock pump will probably be enough without getting a wavemaker.

 

Having said all that...if you want to future-proof your purchase and don't want to spend a lot of time and thought on individually selecting every piece of equipment, that's why the Red Sea Reefers are popular, and expensive. They give you a preconfigured system, with a sump and other related equipment, with all the plumbing and fitting equipment into the cabinet figure out already. You get something you know will work and will give you a lot of flexibility as you feed your ever-expanding addiction to more and cooler stuff in the tank.

 

Hope this helps!

 

 

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Other just want to feed it and look at it, and do some maintenance once a week with the occasional algae scrape in between

Thats probably me. Id rather put the time and money upfront into the setup in order to reduce maintenance burden later.  I really want to have a setup where its easy and quicly to do water changes without making a mess. Is a sump system better for that or AIO? When I was younger I had a fresh water tank and inevitably there would be water everywhere when i did the changes

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1 hour ago, hotdrop said:

Thats probably me. Id rather put the time and money upfront into the setup in order to reduce maintenance burden later.  I really want to have a setup where its easy and quicly to do water changes without making a mess. Is a sump system better for that or AIO? When I was younger I had a fresh water tank and inevitably there would be water everywhere when i did the changes

Aio back chambers is a sump it's just smaller.

 

Hob filter, canister, sump, and back chambers all need maintenance. Canister apparently needs the most. 

 

Definition of a simple system is dependent on what you consider simple.

 

I consider simple as less is more.

 

Heater, lights, basic filtration, powerheads.

 

Another will consider simple as fully automated by a lot of equipment.

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Aio back chambers is a sump it's just smaller.

Can one connect a hose to the sump pump and just pull/fill the water out that way? Or do you still need to use a messy siphon system?

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2 hours ago, hotdrop said:

Can one connect a hose to the sump pump and just pull/fill the water out that way? Or do you still need to use a messy siphon system?

Sumps aren't typically plumbed that way, so for most people it's still the old siphon and refill from the display tank. 

 

But there are automated water change systems. And they're a little easier to set up with a sump. 

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I hated water changes on my Biocube 29 - as you said, got water everywhere, never had any luck with the siphon pumps, etc. When we got an app. 100 gallon sumped system I started using a pump with tubing attached to pump old water out, then pump new water in from a Brute. It was a life changer ;-). 

Now that we have downsized back to the 29 and a new 10, I still use the pump and tubing on both and water changes are done in a flash without any water on the floor. Highly recommend even for small tanks! Just need 2 5 gallon buckets, one to mix saltwater in and one for the old water, an extra pump and 5 feet or so of tubing.

Check out the Waterbox AIOs. Starfire glass and you can get a 10 with pump and AI Prime HD for $279.

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I would go smaller with quality equipment vs a bigger budget build. 

 

Sumps are nice, but they require more effort to set and much more space. For a nano I'd go with an aio. You can go with a standard tank and save money there, but they dont look anywhere near as nice and then you have equipment in your display to boot. 

 

The nuvo ten at 100 bucks is a great option. Throw an ai prime on there, get a media basket with some floss and a liitle chemipure blue, upgrade the return pump, add a random flow generator and youre good to go. 

 

Though I would also get an ato. I was on the ato is just a luxury wagon, but that lasted for about 2 days. 

 

I've also added a wavemaker and a skimmer to my nuvo, but I have acros and have also adopted more of a heavy in, heavy out approach to nutrients.

 

A 20g would be nice and I seriously considered one, but it would have required skimping elsewhere, so decided against it. 

 

Whatever you decide success really comes down to 3 things... Water quality/stability, flow, light(and in that order imo).  Putting your money into those areas will go along way towards success. 

 

And with that said, I'd take the extra money a 20g build would cost and put it towards an rodi unit. You simply cannot trust something as crucial as water to a lfs. 

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