Jump to content
DGibster

Newbie looking for advice on picking a tank

Recommended Posts

DGibster

Hello all, I'm a reef tank newbie looking to get their first tank when the money becomes available. Until that happens I have been doing my due diligence with tons of research into reef tank care, coral requirements, suitable fish, etc. One of the supremely important things that I am having trouble deciding on is what tank I should buy. The criteria are as follows:

  • Must be relatively affordable for an all in one, or otherwise justify the cost in other savings
  • Between 20 and 30 gallons, give or take
  • Integrated sump in the rear of the tank
  • Rimless, though not necessary, is highly desired
  • A tank that comes with a stand is also desirable
  • Lights capable of growing most corals is nice/potentially money saving
  • Anything else that makes tank maintenance easier is a bonus/desirable

 

Based on this, the main LFS store that I've been using recommended the Aquatop Recife 24G Tank and Stand Combo (https://www.aquatop.com/products/recife-eco-24g-tank-stand-combo) and offered one to me for 400$, something which seems like a steal in my eyes. He claimed that the light it comes with should be enough for the corals I want to grow (softies and maybe some LPS), however, upon further research, most people recommended switching out the lights for those intending to grow any type of coral. In addition, the protein skimmer is nigh on useless without some adjustment or replacement. Ok, I thought, not a huge deal, I could use the spare light to turn one of the sump chambers into a refugium like some others mentioned so its not a complete waste.

 

Today I visited another LFS, and this one happens to specialize in corals (their name is actually NorCal Corals). I was talking to the guy working there and when I brought up tanks and the one I was thinking of buying. He knew the tank that I was talking about and has a display with one which he pointed me towards. He had replaced the light (like so many others it seems) and taken out the protein skimmer; the filter/sump in general seemed to be not very good and there was scum on the water surface, though this could always be solved with an additional powerhead (I don't recall there being one in the tank, I think it was getting maintenance). In its place he recommended one of the Coralife Biocubes (http://www.coralifeproducts.com/product/aquariums-tanks/) which has a much more powerful filter and the light is suitable to grow all but more light intensive SPS corals. He is selling 32 gallon Biocubes for 350$. However, it doesn't come with a stand and its not rimless, not the most important things but it means I'll have to hunt down a stand or suitable piece of furniture. The store does have at least one Biocube setup with a few soft corals, showing that the integrated light does work for such animals, though they have a few others with the tops taken off and a more powerful clip on light added. It doesn't make the tank fully rimless unfortunately but its a possible upgrade to keep in mind. The store worker brought up some good points and I'm not so set on the AquaTop anymore, though I still lean to it if I'm being honest. If I consider the fact that I would have to get a replacement light right away for the Aquatop and not for the Biocube the prices are comparable, with perhaps an edge given to the Biocube in that situation. 

 

All this got me looking online to do some more research. I found this Waterbox 20g Cube (https://www.saltwateraquarium.com/20-gallon-starphire-glass-aquarium-cube-waterbox/) for 200$ and Waterbox 25g Peninsula (https://www.saltwateraquarium.com/peninsula-mini-25-gallon-starphire-glass-aquarium-cube-waterbox/) for 250$. They both seem to be as bare bones as it comes, however I'm not paying for lights that I won't need to upgrade and finding a stand/appropriate furniture should not be that hard given the dimensions. Of course, I don't really know anything else about these tanks but they could also be options. 

 

This is where I want to ask you all for your thoughts and recommendations. In the end both stores were trying to sell their own products so I probably shouldn't be trusting their word as much as a satisfied or dissatisfied customer. For those that own any of the tanks mentioned, what are your thoughts? Does anyone else have any recommended tanks that compete at the prices listed (unfortunately, budget does matter, though I look forward to the day it doesn't)?

 

Thank You all so much and I look forward to one day joining you as a reefer.

Share this post


Link to post
_R_

Welcome to Nano Reef 👍.

 

Sometime during May of this year, I picked up a used Innovative Marine 30L on Craigslist with a stand. I then bought light and pumps on Nano-reef market place. Its my daughters tank. 

 

I like the IM 30L, it looks good, well built and is a good tank for a newbie or an experienced reefer.

 

I will let others chime in.

Share this post


Link to post
seabass

:welcome:

 

Most of my tanks have been standard aquariums, so I don't have much to add.  But when trying to decide on something, I often look at what others have posted.  For example, you might use your favorite search engine like this:

site:Nano-Reef.com waterbox 20

 

I like _R_'s suggestion about looking for a good used setup.  There are always people getting in and out of the hobby for various reasons, and sometimes there are pretty good deals to be had.  Plus it's not that uncommon for people to upgrade, upsize, or downsize their first reef tank, once they better know what they like.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88

I have a biocube 16 in my classroom and I know the aquatop, but don't own one.  Biocubes are solid systems for sure, but I personally don't like the lights on them.  They are overwhelmingly white and the coral don't tend to look that nice under bright whites (my opinion).  The aquatops seem to be a better deal solely because it comes with a stand. My guess is the protein skimmer won't be that great, but you also don't really need one on a 24 gallon tank.

 

If you aren't in a rush, scour forums and facebook marketplace for a used setup that comes with a better light and you can often find good deals.  I got a turnkey 20 gallon tank that was up and running with rock, some coral, shrimp and about $500 worth of pretty solid lighting and equipment.  I paid zero dollars because someone was leaving the country and wanted someone who would take care of his stuff. Besides, if this is your first tank, it makes sense to buy used and see how you like the hobby.  Don't spend an arm and a leg to find out a year later it isn't right for you.  You really learn best by doing something.  By starting cheaper and smaller there is less up front cost and you will get a better idea of what you really want in a reef tank, or if you want to continue doing it at all.

 

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

Highly recommend against the curved front glass Biocubes or Nanocubes

 

I had a JBJ Nano Cube

 

The glass was not annealed properly and cracked down the front.  Without water

 

I bought a replacement tank

 

Put it up for sale

 

Sold it to a guy who's JBJ Nanocube cracked down the front glass

 

The Red Sea Max Nano seems fits all of your requirements

 

Has virtually everything, is affordable

 

Pump, protein skimmer, filter, ATO, Light, Stand

 

I don't like the little folding door thing sticking up at the top back.  Otherwise I would have a few of them

Share this post


Link to post
aclman88
2 minutes ago, farkwar said:

The Red Sea Max Nano seems fits all of your requirements

This would be a good tank, but I am not sure OP wants to spend ~$1100 on a tank when they are sharing a $350 biocube and a $400 aquatop as options.  That being said, you could probably find one used for around $5-600 or even less.  Really just depends on your area and if one becomes available.

Share this post


Link to post
DGibster
2 hours ago, aclman88 said:

This would be a good tank, but I am not sure OP wants to spend ~$1100 on a tank when they are sharing a $350 biocube and a $400 aquatop as options.  That being said, you could probably find one used for around $5-600 or even less.  Really just depends on your area and if one becomes available.

So I took your advice and found an old JBJ rimless flat panel (or at least they said it’s a JBJ tank but none of JBJ’s current tanks match the dimensions listed) for sale with EVERYTHING (lights, sand, test kit, etc.) for 500$. The only thing that gives me pause are the lights which are AI Vegas, which look to be older LEDs, based on the fact that the oldest listing for them seems to be from 2013. All in all it looks like a great deal, even if I replace the lights with a newer ones. 

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

I've given my misgivings about the nano cube and biocube.  That issue has never been resolved by the manufacturers. When glass is curved like they are, enormous pressures are stored in the glass. And unless they are annealed properly, many are a ticking time bombs.

 

The small Waterbox tanks have always looked interesting to me. Yet every time I have got close to a buying decision on them, they fail in some way. Ex, No stand available at this time, the wrong stand available at this time. Discontinued the size I was interested in.  2 month lead time.

 

Anyway.  Used seems to be a good option.

 

My Red Sea Nano, used new in box, was found on Marketplace. And I did not pay $1100 for it

 

In just the last week, I have seen 2 Elos Minis for sale in Marketplace for $200 and $250.

 

If I were starting out, I would jump at those tanks.  I would drive right there, only stopping at the ATM for cash, to buy them.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
ReefGoat
15 minutes ago, DGibster said:

So I took your advice and found an old JBJ rimless flat panel (or at least they said it’s a JBJ tank but none of JBJ’s current tanks match the dimensions listed) for sale with EVERYTHING (lights, sand, test kit, etc.) for 500$. The only thing that gives me pause are the lights which are AI Vegas, which look to be older LEDs, based on the fact that the oldest listing for them seems to be from 2013. All in all it looks like a great deal, even if I replace the lights with a newer ones. 

Ask for pictures of the stuff (I'm sure you already have). If he or she is using Vegas then there's a decent chance that ALL the gear you're getting is old stuff. While 500 isn't a bad price for an all inclusive package. I have found that more often than not (in every hobby) you're buying someone else's problems. There are good deals out there don't let me discourage you. I got a great deal from a member on here one time! I drove 8 hours to buy the setup. Everything was just as described and him and his wife were super nice people. Just be cautious.......Because if you try to save money and buy all that stuff for 500 and most of it is garbage. You've wasted 500 bucks that you could've used toward parting together a nice system you could run for years and be happy with. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

Here's a steal

 

I bet the GHA is extra though

Screenshot_20201030-113457_Facebook.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

I'm with ReefGoat, he's being diplomatic I think

 

Seems high for that system

Share this post


Link to post
DGibster
3 hours ago, farkwar said:

Here's a steal

 

I bet the GHA is extra though

Screenshot_20201030-113457_Facebook.jpg

I live in Shasta County so that’s not exactly within my range (I mean I could go down there but that’s an extra 60$ in gas and an entire day dedicated to driving). Also it’s outside of my budget, I’m trying to stay within a 1000$ upfront costs. 
 

Why do you think that this tank is a good deal and the other one isn’t (especially when it’s less than half the cost)?

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

I was being sarcastic.

 

I was using it as an example of how many sellers believe their old crap is worth way less than they think

 

I still think the Max Nano fits all your requirements. For 100 more than your budget, you get everything you asked for.  It's turnkey. Can grow SPS even.  And it's delivered to your door.

 

The only thing I don't remember off hand is if the glass is low iron or not like the Reefer series is..

 

Going back to used

 

And one of those Elos Minis is still for sale.  Needs work.  It's in Sacramento.  Those were $1300 in 2009.  And $1800 new when Elos went out of business.  It's listed for $250, and you can talk down to $200 I bet.

 

Sushi's early Elos Mini is inspiring for many reefers, including myself.  It's a TOTM from back in the day here.  And you will still pics of it on Google searches. 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
ReefGoat

If i was wanting to go budget build. This would be my list

 

10 gallon-$10

DIY AIO kit-$100

AI prime-$209

AI mount-$25

AI NERO 3-$149

10 gallon stand-$50

Cobalt heater-$50

Mighty jet return-$100

Reef breeders ato-$50

 

This still leaves around 350 dollars out of 1100 budget for rock, sand, salt, test kits and miscellaneous small items you'll need. But you'll have quality equipment that you won't regret buying and you'll enjoy using. Because buy it right buy it once. Wasting no money on something you'll grow to dislike or just breaks because its been used 247 for the past 6 years. Remeber reef tanks run continuously day in day out. 

 

This leaves you using distilled water or buying rodi from your LFS. Because an rodi unit will run around 200. But that can wait. You could swap some items out for budget and get the 200 worked in and get rodi unit as well. Swap nero and mighty jet for jaebo stuff and bam theres your rodi. I'm sorry for rambling I just love talking about reef stuff lol. 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Chutsk10
15 hours ago, DGibster said:

So I took your advice and found an old JBJ rimless flat panel (or at least they said it’s a JBJ tank but none of JBJ’s current tanks match the dimensions listed) for sale with EVERYTHING (lights, sand, test kit, etc.) for 500$. The only thing that gives me pause are the lights which are AI Vegas, which look to be older LEDs, based on the fact that the oldest listing for them seems to be from 2013. All in all it looks like a great deal, even if I replace the lights with a newer ones. 

Nothing wrong with AI Vegas. They used to be top of the line when they were released. I am sure light technology has improved since then but I still run a AI Vega on my 20gal and it works great. Fully controllable and more than enough power. I have 100PAR on the sand bed and thats running the lights at 30%.

Share this post


Link to post
MarieH

I am liking the innovative marine 20 gallon,pro with controllable pump, just need lighting and 24 long is easy to light.  Cheers!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
ReefGoat

With budget builds where cost is an extreme limiting factor. The bigger you go the harder its going to be to hit that budget. I realize he wants a 20 or 30 gallon tank. But with just wanting to spend 1000 on EVERYTHING he needs to get started. A 10 gallon is more in OP's budget in my personal worthless opinion lol. But in my worthless opinion buying OLD used gear isn't an option. I'd be curious to see detailed pictures of this $500 setup he's mentioned. Because like I said those Vegas could possibly be approaching almost 7 years of age. I'm just going to be frank here and say thats pretty damn old for something that runs 8 hours a day every single day. So let's say you buy it and that light shits out in a month. Now you've spent 500 dollars on a tank and equipment thats just as old or older god forbid....That my friend would be considered a rip off. With all that said. If everything else is relatively new and the light is the only old part. It could be closer to being a good deal absolutely. Remember testing kits, salt, additives and all that stuff has expiry dates. So some stuff hes including as extra could be worthless as well. A stand that probably came with the tank ages pretty quick too in 7 years. Hell some of them cheap stands that come with those tank kits look like shit in 2 years. I'm not trying to discourage you my friend. I just think that when you're working with a limited budget if you're smart you could totally pull off a very nice little system. Or.....you could get ripped off and have a pile of stuff you hate and no money to get in the hobby because you spent it all......good luck and post them pictures of that setup if you can. 

Share this post


Link to post
DGibster

What are some key questions I want to ask when inquiring about used tanks? I saw the Elos Mini and it looks like a great deal, it’s tempting to drive down there to pick it up. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

Scratches

 

Leaks

 

Does it work

 

What's rusted

 

For LED lights, have them send you pics of it completely lit.  Sometimes individual LEDs or channels blow out or stop working(Kessils are known for this)

 

Actually ask the seller to send you pics of all the flaws "Send me pics of everything wrong".

 

Will you ship

 

Will you deliver(add extra $ for gas, miles, and lunch)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

That Elos Mini has the grill missing

 

You will have to go to TapPlastics and make it or have it made for you

 

One of the best design features of the Elos tanks is that the overflow pulls from the bottom of the tank.  That can't be emphasized too greatly at how beneficial that is.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
DGibster
3 hours ago, farkwar said:

That Elos Mini has the grill missing

 

You will have to go to TapPlastics and make it or have it made for you

 

One of the best design features of the Elos tanks is that the overflow pulls from the bottom of the tank.  That can't be emphasized too greatly at how beneficial that is.

Good to know. I was talking to the guy and he mentioned some water damage at the bottom of the stand. I’ve heard stories of stands falling apart because of water damage; is this a black mark? He also never mentioned the missing grill so I’m starting to wonder if we’re looking at the same tank.

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

If this is the tank

 

This pic shows the grill missing

 

It's a flat sheet of plastic. With a circular grill on the bottom.  And two on the top. It slides out for cleaning. The seller may not know it's missing. Going by the rust on the hinges, he's probably not original owner

 

Re Stand.  If stability of the stand is an issue.  Get some aluminum L bracket.  And fix it to the inside corners.(I'm using 80/20 for mine)

Screenshot_20201031-170327_Facebook.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

That junk on the overflow will come off with vinegar

Share this post


Link to post
farkwar

Another AIO to consider are the Lifegard AIOs

 

They don't come with stands

 

But the Glassworks of them is notable.

 

Low iron glass. Beveled edges.  And mitered corners. Little on the thin side tho, iirc

 

Just remembered them

Share this post


Link to post
Tamberav

Im 25 lagoon and buy a AI prime or maxspect jump 65 for it... then an Ikea cabinet. i would beef it up a bit but it is an inexpensive option for a very slick tank.

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recommended Discussions

×
×
  • Create New...