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Old 03/07/2018, 07:16 PM   #1
KTwo
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$5,500 budget ...

When (if?) I pull the trigger on a tank in the May/June time frame, I'll have a budget of about $5,500 to spend on everything - to include livestock and the first few months of 'consumables'.

For that amount of money, what would everyone recommend I buy, given the following requirements:
1. Min size of 50 gallons, max of 100
2. Gotta have a separate sump, not an all in one
3. Gotta have a refugium
4. Gotta have a protein skimmer
5. Lights
6. Needs to include an RO/DI solution and a mixing solution for someone who doesn't have a dedicated room. I have some storage in the furnace room but not enough space to dedicate to water.
6. System is going to go in my basement. No direct sunlight and ambient temp is around 66 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't think I need a chiller.
7. I'm interested in (hardy/easy) fish and some (easy/soft) corrals.

I'm drawn towards the Red Sea solutions because you can't really argue about the bang for the buck for a beginner (never had a reef tank before). There are some compromises there (sump with no fuge, wooden stand, small ATO) but to build a DIY system is way more money. I priced a 48x24x24 tank on Custom Aquariums and it was $1,400 for just the tank.

So I'm using my 'phone a friend' and asking what you'd buy with the above budget.

Thx
-K2


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Old 03/07/2018, 07:22 PM   #2
Satttheman
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You can get a Red Sea 250 or 350 and swap out the sump or run an algae scrubber. Equipment and rodi are pretty easy to sort out.


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Old 03/07/2018, 08:55 PM   #3
dkwatts15
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I started mine for less than your budget. Got a 75G deep blue reef ready and 30G sump 1 year old for $200 on Craigslist. Had a local cabinet company make my stand to my custom design for $ 400 and I stained it myself. Reef Breeders photon 32 light from criagslist $200 which was still in warranty. Skimmer, jeboa return pump & wavemaker $175 for both. Salt, Dry rock, live-sand and other miscellaneous $400-$600. Wait a few months for the cycle to finish & recover from the setup expense. Then add some fish and coral slowly. You can really have a nice setup with that budget. I have just started upgrading to vortech pumps, dosing pump and apex the last year or so and it has been 4 yrs since I started mine. Got my Apex used on ebay for half what a new one with all the extra mine modules mine came with.


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Old 03/08/2018, 05:26 AM   #4
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IMO get the size tank you really want. That is a one time cost and going bigger later is a real PITA (I've done it).

$5500 is a really good budget, just remember you don't need everything all at once. A doser, ATO, reactor(s), ATS, refugium, are all things that can be added on later should the need arise.

Decide what types of livestock you want to keep. That'll determine lighting and flow requirements. Open top or canopy?

Don't rush! Allow the tank to mature before taking the plunge into filling with coral (especially SPS). If you get live rock from the start (best option) you'll really cut down on headaches and get to a fully stocked tank much sooner.

Best of luck!


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Old 03/08/2018, 10:04 AM   #5
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The best advice would be to work backwards from the livestock you MUST have. Ie, fish that needs large tank? SPS corals? If you're not sure at the moment, taking some time to think about it will be best, or you will end up spending double or triple the budget on "upgrades" that could have been avoided in the first place.

well, the budget is a good one, I had some fun on the BRS website, here's what I got:

Tank: RS reefer deluxe XL 425 (black) = $2679
Lights: N/A (deluxe tank includes hydra 26HDs, and should be good enough for easy corals)
Pump: Ecotech Vectra S1 = $275
Powerhead: 3k ICECAP gyre + controller = $150
Skimmer: Reef Octopus classic 202 8" = $375
Refugium light: Kessil H80 = $129
Heater: Finnex 300w = $42

Rock: BRS Pukani 60lb = $227
Sand: Caribsea Fiji Pink (2x20lb) = $78
Salt: Red Sea Salt (blue bucket 175g) = $73
RO/DI: BRS 6 stage (Basic) = $230
Test Kit: Red Sea Marine Care = $48 (ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, ph, kh should be enough for softies with regular water change)
Refractometer: BRS refractomter = $40

For a grand total of $4346

Missing:
Mixing solution: i think brute bins are pretty popular
Refugium: gonna have to find a way to add a baffle in your sump area
Livestock: can't comment on that

My biggest regret, was not waiting 4 months for the red sea reefer XXL to come out lol! I am of the go big or go home mentality =)

Good luck!


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Old 03/08/2018, 10:05 AM   #6
LauraGreenImp
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We started 7yrs ago w $3K budget, my main desire was to get the largest tank that would fit in the allotted space. +1 on live rock. So many things can come later, slower is better. We didn’t even have a sump for several years.

At this point, hubs says we’ve put in abt 10K, but this is our ‘dream’ tank, and we love it!


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Current Tank Info: 150g tall Mixed reef 30g sump, Simplicity protein skimmer [loaner heaters atm] 5”+ fish: Hippo Tang, Foxface 4.5”: Yellow Tang, Diamond Goby 2.5” & under: 6 Chromis, Filefish, murderous Maroon/Gold Clown + Cleaner Shrimp, Fire Shrimp, H Crabs
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Old 03/08/2018, 07:40 PM   #7
KTwo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Satttheman View Post
Equipment and rodi are pretty easy to sort out.
My problem with RO/DI is that I don't have a dedicated space I can use to mount, plumb, make, mix, and store water. In a perfect world I'd have some kind of cart I could push in to the basement bathroom and hook up to the shower or sink and make water. Then mix on the same cart and then roll over to the tank and do a top off or water swap.

Still working on this one.

-K2


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Old 03/08/2018, 07:43 PM   #8
KTwo
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Originally Posted by dkwatts15 View Post
I started mine for less than your budget. Got a 75G deep blue reef ready and 30G sump 1 year old for $200 on Craigslist. Had a local cabinet company make my stand to my custom design for $ 400 and I stained it myself.
Jealous. I keep looking for a deal like that - or one that's even close. I can build a stand. But it's tough to compete with the prices that Red Sea offer for the whole package. There's still some time between now and May/June so who knows what will pop up on Craigslist.

-K2


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Old 03/08/2018, 07:48 PM   #9
KTwo
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Originally Posted by RobZilla04 View Post
IMO get the size tank you really want. That is a one time cost and going bigger later is a real PITA (I've done it).

$5500 is a really good budget, just remember you don't need everything all at once. A doser, ATO, reactor(s), ATS, refugium, are all things that can be added on later should the need arise.

Decide what types of livestock you want to keep. That'll determine lighting and flow requirements. Open top or canopy?

Don't rush! Allow the tank to mature before taking the plunge into filling with coral (especially SPS). If you get live rock from the start (best option) you'll really cut down on headaches and get to a fully stocked tank much sooner.

Best of luck!
Thanks. While I'd love a huge tank (100's of gallons) it's not practical for a newbie nor for my housing situation. I drool over the threads about people putting huge tanks and dedicated rooms in their houses.

I do need to spend some time figuring out livestock. I know I want a couple of clownfish and a flame angel (if they can co-exist). I'm still looking at others. Part of the attraction for me to reef tanks are the brightly colored fish. So I need to keep looking.

Compared to other endeavors I've undertaken, I'm actually going pretty slow on this one. I usually spend a few weeks researching and then start buying. I'm at about a month of researching with no plans to buy anything for at least two more months.

Thx
-K2


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Old 03/08/2018, 07:54 PM   #10
KTwo
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Originally Posted by Reefiez View Post
The best advice would be to work backwards from the livestock you MUST have. Ie, fish that needs large tank? SPS corals? If you're not sure at the moment, taking some time to think about it will be best, or you will end up spending double or triple the budget on "upgrades" that could have been avoided in the first place.

well, the budget is a good one, I had some fun on the BRS website, here's what I got:

- snip -

Good luck!
Wow! Great list. Thanks for the starting point. You're not the first to recommend working backwards - time to spend some clock cycles on livestock. I'm pretty simplistic right now. Some clowns, a flame angel, and one or two other 'brightly colored' fish.

What I'm really trying to do is to minimize the amount of recurring work. If I can spend a few hundred dollars more right now to reduce the recurring labor or maintenance that is well worth it to me. Which is why I think I need a fuge. But who knows, I could be totally off base with that. Thus the research.

Thanks again for helping to build my shopping list!

-K2


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Old 03/08/2018, 07:57 PM   #11
KTwo
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Originally Posted by LauraGreenImp View Post
We started 7yrs ago w $3K budget, my main desire was to get the largest tank that would fit in the allotted space. +1 on live rock. So many things can come later, slower is better. We didn’t even have a sump for several years.

At this point, hubs says we’ve put in abt 10K, but this is our ‘dream’ tank, and we love it!


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Nice 'skimmer'! As I said before, I'm taking this really slow for me. 7 years is a long time. I just hope that, if I take the plunge, that this doesn't end up being a 'flash in the pan' type hobby and I'm looking to sell all my stuff in a couple of years.

-K2


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Old 03/08/2018, 08:12 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by KTwo View Post
Nice 'skimmer'! As I said before, I'm taking this really slow for me. 7 years is a long time. I just hope that, if I take the plunge, that this doesn't end up being a 'flash in the pan' type hobby and I'm looking to sell all my stuff in a couple of years.

-K2
If you're worried about that, spend a lot less money and get an IM AIO type tank and start with that. What got me hooked a decade ago was a little 12g JBJ AIO tank with CF bulbs. Then I upgraded to a used 175G bowfront about 8 months later. :P

If you decide it's not just a flash in the pan hobby, then upgrade to something larger and more permanent and use the smaller old tank as a frag tank or for something else.

I say this because you're not gonna get much for used equipment. I have several other hobbies and I can get a decent amount of money selling stuff off (guitars, guitar petals, amps, vintage razors, etc) but with this hobby, you take a pretty big hit when you sell off stuff. That's been my experience anyway.


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Old 03/08/2018, 08:33 PM   #13
Satttheman
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My problem with RO/DI is that I don't have a dedicated space I can use to mount, plumb, make, mix, and store water. In a perfect world I'd have some kind of cart I could push in to the basement bathroom and hook up to the shower or sink and make water. Then mix on the same cart and then roll over to the tank and do a top off or water swap.



Still working on this one.



-K2


Buy an rodi plumb the input line upstair or whatever the source is. Buy a few Brute trash cans with wheels.


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Old 03/08/2018, 08:34 PM   #14
KTwo
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If you're worried about that, spend a lot less money and get an IM AIO type tank and start with that.
Yeah, I know that's the common sense route. But as my wife will tell you, I've never been one for common sense. I also said that somewhat 'tongue in cheek'. I know that there's a possibility that I'll hate this and have to sell my stuff. But I'm like you, I have a few hobbies - none of which I've given up on ... yet. I'm willing to spend the money to get a system that I believe will maximize my enjoyment and recognize that diminished resale value is simply part of the process.

Thanks for the input.
-K2


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Old 03/08/2018, 08:51 PM   #15
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Yeah, I know that's the common sense route. But as my wife will tell you, I've never been one for common sense. I also said that somewhat 'tongue in cheek'. I know that there's a possibility that I'll hate this and have to sell my stuff. But I'm like you, I have a few hobbies - none of which I've given up on ... yet. I'm willing to spend the money to get a system that I believe will maximize my enjoyment and recognize that diminished resale value is simply part of the process.

Thanks for the input.
-K2
Yeah man, I'm pretty similar. I dive into things head first and always end up wanting to buy quality stuff. So I know the feeling!


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Old 03/08/2018, 08:56 PM   #16
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Same here. I try to start witg quality equipment but make sure things like the stand, tank are what I want since they are the hardest to change. Bought lower equipment that was easier to replace later.


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Old 03/08/2018, 09:20 PM   #17
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Jealous. I keep looking for a deal like that - or one that's even close. I can build a stand. But it's tough to compete with the prices that Red Sea offer for the whole package. There's still some time between now and May/June so who knows what will pop up on Craigslist.



-K2


I got lucky. Seems to never be anything on my local craiglist. I just got lucky and the tank and sump popped up and a week later the light. I was actually shopping for a 90g but the $200 deal was to good. I really like the 75g since it is shorter and easier to do maintenance. If I were to do it over again. I would have bought a 120g 48” x 24” x 24”. If I could somehow modify my stand I would upgrade.


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Old 03/09/2018, 01:07 PM   #18
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$5,500 budget ...

K2 - I had 40+ yrs experience w FW, tanks everywhere. lol

So, when I decided to re-home all the FW stuff, I was prepared to be patient to get what I wanted. I’m still not there, but I’m ok w delayed gratification.

If you want to *plunge* headfirst, my only advice is to get the largest tank that will fit + a stand you want, not just the stand you need. Also, I don’t think you mentioned your future DT location - bc ours is in LR, we had to get our floor braced.

Everything else is easy, and can be done all at once or piecemeal, whatever fits your vision.

I cannot recommend live rock enough! GL!!

EDIT: this is JMHO, but I would never, ever get a ‘used’ tank - everything else, but not that

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No glass box turns into a beautiful reef tank quickly.

Current Tank Info: 150g tall Mixed reef 30g sump, Simplicity protein skimmer [loaner heaters atm] 5”+ fish: Hippo Tang, Foxface 4.5”: Yellow Tang, Diamond Goby 2.5” & under: 6 Chromis, Filefish, murderous Maroon/Gold Clown + Cleaner Shrimp, Fire Shrimp, H Crabs
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Old 03/09/2018, 01:48 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by KTwo View Post
My problem with RO/DI is that I don't have a dedicated space I can use to mount, plumb, make, mix, and store water. In a perfect world I'd have some kind of cart I could push in to the basement bathroom and hook up to the shower or sink and make water. Then mix on the same cart and then roll over to the tank and do a top off or water swap.

Still working on this one.

-K2
I used to work at the local fish store and for years I used a fold up utility cart with a 30 gallon rubbermaid garbage can for doing water changes on our 90 gallon reef display tank. I would fill the garbage can up with the rodi water, roll it over to an outlet so I could plug in a power head and heater to mix the salt and heat the water overnight...then the next morning I would roll the cart over to the 90 gallon tank and use a submersible pump with flexible tubing to drain the water from the tank to a nearby sink. Once that was done, I would refill the tank with the submersible pump and the water from the garbage can. It was very easy to do and only took me about 25 - 30 minutes total to do the water change once the water was ready to go.




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Old 03/10/2018, 06:53 PM   #20
ezzelld
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When (if?) I pull the trigger on a tank in the May/June time frame, I'll have a budget of about $5,500 to spend on everything - to include livestock and the first few months of 'consumables'.

For that amount of money, what would everyone recommend I buy, given the following requirements:
1. Min size of 50 gallons, max of 100
2. Gotta have a separate sump, not an all in one
3. Gotta have a refugium
4. Gotta have a protein skimmer
5. Lights
6. Needs to include an RO/DI solution and a mixing solution for someone who doesn't have a dedicated room. I have some storage in the furnace room but not enough space to dedicate to water.
6. System is going to go in my basement. No direct sunlight and ambient temp is around 66 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't think I need a chiller.
7. I'm interested in (hardy/easy) fish and some (easy/soft) corrals.

I'm drawn towards the Red Sea solutions because you can't really argue about the bang for the buck for a beginner (never had a reef tank before). There are some compromises there (sump with no fuge, wooden stand, small ATO) but to build a DIY system is way more money. I priced a 48x24x24 tank on Custom Aquariums and it was $1,400 for just the tank.

So I'm using my 'phone a friend' and asking what you'd buy with the above budget.

Thx
-K2
Puffer fish!

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Old 03/10/2018, 07:43 PM   #21
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I'm working on my 150g tank, and am about 4 weeks away from ordering the tank, stand, and canopy which will cost right under $2000. I've already spent over $1200 on sump, return pump, flow pumps, protein skimmer, refugium light, inkbird.. I still have $600-700 live rock, 140lbs of live sand, LED lighting for the DT, heater(s), ATO and container, and possibly doser. So I'm looking at approximately $5100 complete give or take a few on a 150 tall. This is honestly the first time I've added it all up.


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Old 03/10/2018, 08:11 PM   #22
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I agree that $5,500 is a nice budget. I setup my 5’ by 2’ by 2’ 150 gallon up for right around $2,000 but I did a diy stand & sump, bought the tank used for $350 & I already had the lights. Even a new tank & lights would have put me at around $4,000. I know that really doesn’t help u much but it shows $5,500 is a good budget.

First thing I would do before making any purchases is figure out what u are going to want to do with the tank. Mainly if u are going to want corals & if so what type of corals. This will affect your fish list. If u want specific fish that aren’t reef safe then u have to decide if that is what u want or u may want corals one day. Also, buy quality the first time around. By doing it this way u will not end up having to buy things twice. Your budget is definitely doable but not if u end up having to buy things twice because u change your mind on what u want to do with the tank or from buying bad quality equipment.

As far as the tank itself. If u aren’t going to start with something small I would start out with a 120 gallon. The price wouldn’t be all that different from setting up a 75 to 100 gallon tank & having the 24” front to back is well worth it imo. I know for my main dt having the 24” depth is a must & makes aquascaping so much easier & gives u way more options on the aquascape. U can find a nice 120 gallon tank for less then $1,000.

Tank size & if u want corals will be the biggest factors on what fish u can keep. So I would figure out what is most important for u then go from there. Once u get that figured out we will be able to get more specific & u can really start to see what u will be able to do with your budget


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Old 03/11/2018, 11:02 PM   #23
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If I were to ever buy a kit aquatium...something like the Red Sea where u am not piecing it all together...I would go with the Waterbox Platinum series 135.4g tank. These guys seem to make beautiful tanks that everyone loves, and they are cheaper than Red Sea.

That being said though, around here I can buy a new 150g with stand for well under $1000. I'd then buy all of the components to meet my stocking requirements and come in well under $5500.

I'd buy an oversized DC skimmer, combo LED and T5 lighting, an Ecotech Vectra L1, and 2 MP40s. A nice Tunze ATO, and decent doser, 2 media reactors, and a quality sump/refug...whatever is the biggest that would fit in my space (whether under the cabinet or on a separate shelf/stand).

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New 120+ in progress that I'll start a thread on soon.

Current Tank Info: Standard 90g with offset center overflow - new 120+ going up soon.
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Old 03/17/2018, 02:28 AM   #24
Tastee
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I’m 6 months into the hobby, and my tank currently owes me about A$7,500. I am quite enviously of you USA based reefers - US$5,500 stretches a lot further than A$5,500 due to the markups etc we have to pay!

Good luck with the new setup. My only advice is don’t skimp on the quality of the mechanical items and consider a controller to alert you to problems.


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