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Tank Size for Beginner?


damikester

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Hello All!

 

I've got several years experience keeping freshwater successfully and have recently become interested in trying out a small reef setup.

 

I've got a 29 gallon tank sitting around doing nothing, but what I'd really like to try out is a 12 gallon nano cube deluxe. Not to mention, that the nano cube is pretty much self contained as far as the equipment goes. And, it'd be somewhat less costly to setup.

 

I'd like your opinions on the my chances of being successful with the nano cube given my freshwater experience? I don't plan to attempt to keep anything in it that requires a whole lot of light. Some LR, LS, Softies, some type of small Shrimp, and a clean up crew.

 

Also, how much time can I expect to spend with maintenance?

 

If you think I'd be better off going with the 29 gallon as a first reef, I'd appreciate some advice about lighting it and how much time I can expect the maintenance with it will take.

 

TIA

 

Mike

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Well, the Nano Cube DX is a great candidate for a begginer IMO. just be sure to take out all the bio-balls and spunges from the back compartments, they lead to nitrate factories...Just put some LR rubble in the back, and that should be alright.

 

Asfor maintenance...well, you get what you put into it! I'd say some where between 15-20 minutes a day. Also, on certain days of the week when you do water changes be prepared for a bout 30 minutes worth.

 

GL

HTH

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if money isn't too much of a concern, and u just want in "intro" tank as u said with just softies, i highly urge you to get the Nano-Cube DX. it will be fine for softies, beginner corals, a fish or two, a clean-up crew and of course a cleaner shrimp. you will be able to learn the basics of reef-keeping while you're using the nano-cube DX and when u get a hang of it, you can always upgrade to a larger tank. with maintenance, smaller tanks are obviously easier to perform water changes with, and u should expect 30 mins - 1 hour of "maintenance" per week... (not to mention countless hours just staring and admiring what's going on in the tank)

 

anyways, as for upgrading, this is why i said get the DX if $$$ isn't a large factor. the DX will come with everything a beginner needs to be a successful reef-keeper, and it will also be something that you can learn from. and as i said above, when time comes for an upgrade (when u feel ur ready for a bigger tank, or when u simply outgrow the cube), u can always setup a 29g tank. by this time u should know what type of lighting u want, where to get what, and of course, how to take care of it.

 

i'll be honest and say, if i didn't start out with a nano-cube, i'd be stuck with an ugly ass 20L or something large and unpleasant looking as my "display tank." think of it as a "rough" draft that u can perfect before you start bigger projects. HTH, hopefully i made sense?

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Originally posted by Travis

Asfor maintenance...well, you get what you put into it!  I'd say some where between 15-20 minutes a day.  Also, on certain days of the week when you do water changes be prepared for a bout 30 minutes worth.

When you're talking about 15-20 minutes a day, is that for top off, feeding, and cleaning the glass? Is there anything else I'm missing as far as maintenance goes on a daily basis?

 

Mike

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Originally posted by Wobach

i would go for a via aqua tank... IMO they look better..

I like the look of the Via Aqua's also. I just don't want to have to mess with upgrading lighting if I can get away with it. The Nano Cube DLX comes stock with 48 watts.

 

Mike

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Originally posted by uchiha

if money isn't too much of a concern, and u just want in "intro" tank as u said with just softies, i highly urge you to get the Nano-Cube DX.  it will be fine for softies, beginner corals, a fish or two, a clean-up crew and of course a cleaner shrimp.  you will be able to learn the basics of reef-keeping while you're using the nano-cube DX and when u get a hang of it, you can always upgrade to a larger tank.  with maintenance, smaller tanks are obviously easier to perform water changes with, and u should expect 30 mins - 1 hour of "maintenance" per week... (not to mention countless hours just staring and admiring what's going on in the tank)

Yes, an intro type tank is what I'm going for. Something for me to learn with. Also, I think I could get my wife to let me set something small up in our livingroom and the Nano Cube DLX looks good and has a small footprint. If I can get her into this reef thing as well, my upgrades in the future will become alot easier! :)

 

Thanks to all for your replies!

 

Mike

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My lfs has a couple of very nice looking cubes on the counter in the store set up with rock, various corals, inverts, and fish. I am sure he has them overstocked in terms of fish given that there are usually at least 4 or 5 fish in them, so I figure he either rotates his stock through them or does daily water changes. Nonetheless, these are stock cubes and still the corals and such look very sharp and healthy in them. They are very clean and stylish looking and would soothe the saltwater bug while you plot something bigger. I know, that's what's happening for me with my 10 gal. :

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I was going to tell you that since you have that 29 sitting there doing nothing then why not go ahead and set it up. But after thinking about it I guess the best thing will be to start a Nano cube. There is a 24 gallon one coming out soon and that will pretty cool for you. Then once you got your feet wet with a Nano tank then you can set up that 29 gallon as well and just run both. I have a 20 gallon and I am about to start a 60 gallon. Im thinking of running both, unless I use the 20 for a sump. But I would like 2 tanks.

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Just keep in mind that starting with a smaller tank, most people say, is more difficult to maintain than a much larger tank. People told me this before I jumped into marine tanks but I just went ahead and setup a 20gal tank. So far so good. With smaller tanks, the parameters will fluctuacte alot easier so stabilizing will required more maintenance. Evaporation will be fast so salinity will fluctuate alot. I think youll be ok though. If youll have hardy fish and mainly softies, youll get away with alot of things. Good luck man.

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Okay...I think there are a lot of missing details/misconceptions about these all-in-one set-ups.

 

1. You will NOT save money by buying these "complete" set-ups. Just do a search and you'll realize that nobody keeps the stock lights, stock filter system, etc. So you end up replacing all of these things and spend more money than you would've for a plain tank w/o the extras. So for example, you end up spending $250 for a via aqua glass 18g tank by itself....nothing else is really useful that comes w/ it. w/ $250 you could've bought a plain AGA 20g glass tank and a good skimmer/filter. Lighting will be roughly the same no matter what size tank you have (assuming it's under 50g). For example, 75w, 150w, and 250w Ocean Light MH pendant complete set-ups only differ by $20. $250 could even buy 2 of my 30g show acrylic tanks or six 20g long AGA's.

 

Only increased cost of larger tanks for the beginner is cost of live rock since you will need more of them for larger tanks. But as I mentioned, if you buy an AGA tank, you could use the money saved to buy LR and a replacement power filter.

 

2. Smaller tanks are not easier to maintain, therefore not great for beginners. Only thing you save on is the time it takes to do water changes and space...but trying to keep water parameters pristine/optimal in 10g is a lot harder than 40g. Not to mention, keeping smaller tanks like nano-cubes stable in terms of temperature is also harder than if you had more volume of water. Basically, bigger tank - greater volumes of water - are the best for beginners b/c it gives you a greater margin/room for error. if you make a mistake and have a dead fish producing ammonia in a 5g tank - whipe out city. A dead fish in a 40g tank - not too big of a deal since it will be diluted by greater volume of water. Really small nanos are for more advanced aquarists...not beginners. Lots of smaller tanks have algae problems, temperature problems, livestock limitations, etc, and any other probs that Chino mentioned. These types of challenges are easier for more advanced hobbyists to deal w/, but not for beginners. I agree w/ Chino, and I'm not saying these challenges are impossible to deal w/. Many can and effectively do deal with them. But you just won't have to deal with them as much if you had a larger tank.

 

Just thought i'd throw in my 2 cents. Too many times I see beginners getting suckered into buying these all-in-one systems to find that they have to spend way more money than expected or have to do a lot of modifications. I know cuz I was one of em. Many get over it; but I got really frustrated and just upgraded to the tank I have now.

 

These tanks are really for those who just love the look of the tank so much that they are willing to spend the extra money to buy one and they are advanced in the hobby enough to deal with the inherent challenges of smaller tanks. Just wanted you to know the complete picture before you purchase this product.

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I know what he is asking and I was in the same boat. If you want an all in one, get the nanocube DX. If you stick to keeping softies and fish you will be fine. It makes the transition into saltwater far less daunting. Everythig is ready to go and the only extra thing in immediate need is a heater.

 

Tigah is totally correct, but for what you want the nanocube is perfect.

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"Too many times I see beginners getting suckered into buying these all-in-one systems to find that they have to spend way more money than expected or have to do a lot of modifications. I know cuz I was one of em."

 

Same here.

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And for the record...i have nothing against via aquas or nano cubes or the ppl who use them. And this is not about personal preferences and trying to exert my personal preference on anyone. I just feel bad (and know how it feels) when ppl buy them thinking it's going to be easy and cheap, but it doesn't end up being the case. And i do hear about these problems all the time, both former and current owners of these set-ups. But for the more experienced hobbyists, I see no such problems since they know what they are getting into and have been able to pull of these tanks very well in spite of the challenges.

 

But this may be the most compelling argument against buying smaller set-ups in general: you won't be able to keep a Yellow Tang. =)

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Be prepared to be stressed out one day when something dies or something called diatom phase comes along. Then algae outbreakcome around, pH fluctuates, and other water quality issues. I have spent about 40 percent of my new nano reef hobby worrying about everything.

 

I think all-in-one is great for begginers, or what ever reliable setup is cheapest, becasue it will help you get started imediately. This way you can find out if you are into the hobby or not, and not waste alot of money later finding out the hobby is not for you. So in a way, I dissagree with Tigahboy for saying greater volumes of water - are the best for beginners . It is not better when it comes to new comers to the hobby that does not even know if the hobby will his or her thing for a long period of time. I belive that in this time, with the use of much more advance equipments, live rocks, live sand and let's not forget the information we get from the internet has greatly improved nano reef care. This is coming from a guy who wanted to see what would happen if he let his Pulsing Xenias die, and melt completey in the nano-cube with no problems after with water quality. What I am also trying to say is, If you got alot of money (about a thousand for a 20l) to trial the hobby, than go for the bigger tanks.

 

This is a nano-reef forum isn't it? I believe Chritopher Marks, (the creator of this website) started his first reef tank as a nano reef with much success.

 

I started with the cube for 150 bucks, and then about 6 months later, I thought it was time to upgrade to a 15g regular with a 5.5g refugium.

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Originally posted by Tigahboy

Smaller tanks are not easier to maintain, therefore not great for beginners.  Only thing you save on is the time it takes to do water changes and space...but trying to keep water parameters pristine/optimal in 10g is a lot harder than 40g.  Not to mention, keeping smaller tanks like nano-cubes stable in terms of temperature is also harder than if you had more volume of water.  Basically, bigger tank - greater volumes of water - are the best for beginners b/c it gives you a greater margin/room for error.

What you say makes perfect sense to me, in that a larger volume of water will be more forgiving of any mistakes with the water parameters. This is the reason for my original post, to get opinions one way or the other with regards to a good starter tank size for myself.

 

I appreciate your comments and advice Tigahboy, you've been very thorough. Not to mention, you given me more to think about! :)

 

Mike

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I feel I should respond to this, because I happen to disagree with parts of it. This is not to say Tigah is wrong....just that other opinions exist.

 

Originally posted by Tigahboy

You will NOT save money by buying these "complete" set-ups.  Just do a search and you'll realize that nobody keeps the stock lights, stock filter system, etc.  So you end up replacing all of these things and spend more money than you would've for a plain tank w/o the extras.  So for example, you end up spending $250 for a via aqua glass 18g tank by itself....nothing else is really useful that comes w/ it.  w/ $250 you could've bought a plain AGA 20g glass tank and a good skimmer/filter.  Lighting will be roughly the same no matter what size tank you have (assuming it's under 50g).  For example, 75w, 150w, and 250w Ocean Light MH pendant complete set-ups only differ by $20.  $250 could even buy 2 of my 30g show acrylic tanks or six 20g long AGA's.  

 

With a nano-cube DX, the whole point is the better lights. Otherwise you'd buy a regular nano-cube (and yes, as Tigah said, you'd eventually wind up ripping out the lights and replacing them....)...this way, with the DX, you can get away with using the stock lights and actually raise some really neat stuff (most softies, LPS, and maybe even some of the less light-hungry SPS). And the cubes really really look slick. A 20g long AGA just pales by comparison. He's talking about putting it in his living room, so I think "slick looking" is an important consideration.

 

Originally posted by Tigahboy

] but trying to keep water parameters pristine/optimal in 10g is a lot harder than 40g.  

 

There's a very thorough discussion at the beginning of Tullock's "Natural Reef Aquariums" about why this is simply not true. My thinking was along the exact same lines ("dead fish in a 5g is wipe-out city, dead fish in a 40 is probably less bad") until I read it. Don't want to type out the details (it's 6am here and I haven't gone to bed yet), but I highly recommend this book.

 

He's right about the temperature thing. Temperature fluctuations suck.

 

Anyway, he put in his two cents, so here are mine. *clink*

 

--B

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To clarify my post....Tullock's reasoning is definitely open to interpretation and a matter of opinion. So "simply untrue" is maybe going a bit far. Tullock would say that it's as easy to keep water quality up in a 5g as a 40g....but I'm not entirely sure I'd believe him. The logic of "small tank makes it harder to keep good water quality" makes very good sense too.

 

--B

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