Aquarists unite: fish are friends, and food

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100g tank with a 40g sump. I have a few opinions on tanks, a lot (most) are over priced as fuck. Like the Red Sea if I'm honest. $2500 for a 70g tank is fuckin insane, even if it comes with all the doodads. You can get clip on metal halides for $50-60, two would be good for 60-70, three for 100g. Go wide and shallow, with enough depth to fit some big rocks. You can go lower power, which is cheaper, and cast over a larger surface area, growing a lot more coral. I'd need to do a little research, but LED lights these days are designed damned near perfectly and will last 10-15 years, while expensive, provide a much more consistent light spectrum and penetration, without the bulb replacements every six months. Color profile is customizable, but I'll admit, a good T5 and/or metal halide setup can provide some amazing color and brightness. Metal halide is my favorite for authentic, bright as fuck, shimmering sunlight, but replacing a $60 bulb every 6 months was pretty obnoxious.

A $1-200 RO system I'd say is required if you want to have an ease of maintenance. Also if the tank is close to an area for draining helps tremendously. I had a 110g in a 3rd floor apartment where I was carrying two 5g Ozarka bottles up a couple times every week that I had filled up from a local HEB that had a 7 layer RO filtration system for $0.25/gallon, and had to mix in salt after. I drained water out off the balcony and I'm sure the grass in that area won't grow for another 25 years.
 
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Frenzied Wombat

<Donors Crew>
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I’ll detail it out later, but In summary a good setup as of a few years ago at least was:

Cadlight tank, stand, and sump
Tunze pump
Octopus skimmer
Neptune aquacontroller and power bars
EcoTech VorTech powerheads
EcoTech Radion LED lights

If you can find any of it used except the tank, go for it, but this is a great system with tons of automation.

Imho dosing isn’t important at all unless you run a lot of SPS. If it’s just softies and LPS weekly water change with quality salt for 5-10% volume gives you all the minerals you need.
 

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<Moderation Tools>
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Let me get back to my desk and I'll link you to more resources than you can handle. But ultimately for equipment you should really buy locally, check Craigslist. I got a killer fuckin $600 4xT5HO kit, bulbs, ballasts, for like $60 with less than 2 months on them.

That said, if you have space for a 100g, I can provide a link or two for a tank with crystal clear glass in the profile I've suggested with an overflow. Then you can get new shit like a basic 40g sump with drilled lines, a proper pump, all that shit. I also have sources for sand, be it pool sand, or tahitian white or black. Depends on how fancy you want to go, and your budget.
 
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a c i d.f l y

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<Moderation Tools>
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I’ll detail it out later, but In summary a good setup as of a few years ago at least was:

Cadlight tank, stand, and sump
Tunze pump
Octopus skimmer
Neptune aquacontroller and power bars
EcoTech VorTech powerheads
EcoTech Radion LED lights

If you can find any of it used except the tank, go for it, but this is a great system with tons of automation.

Imho dosing isn’t important at all unless you run a lot of SPS. If it’s just softies and LPS weekly water change with quality salt for 5-10% volume gives you all the minerals you need.
Very good suggestions. Surprised to still see Tunze as the pump, though I shouldn't be given I had one myself and it was the most expensive thing I had in my Frankenstein, Craigslist setup. $250 pump I got for basically free when I picked up a bunch of excess equipment from a deconstructed tank... Pump would last a lifetime if it didn't run dry.
 
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Frenzied Wombat

<Donors Crew>
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Very good suggestions. Surprised to still see Tunze as the pump, though I shouldn't be given I had one myself and it was the most expensive thing I had in my Frankenstein, Craigslist setup. $250 pump I got for basically free when I picked up a bunch of excess equipment from a deconstructed tank... Pump would last a lifetime if it didn't run dry.
Imho the biggest mistake in reefing is going cheap. I tell people if they want cheap then find a different hobby or buy an AIO nano reef tank (which are actually a lot of fun). Too much at stake with component failures. Plus automation is fun. The Tunze is proven beast.
 

Frenzied Wombat

<Donors Crew>
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49d 19h 32m
So if I had $2500 this is what I'd build:

Cadlights 75G tank, stand, pump, plumbing, and skimmer: 75G SAIO Series [18075-SAIO] - $1,299.99 : Cadlights, Think Outside the Cube $1300
Apex Classic controller with PH Probe: Apex Classic Controller with Lab-Grade pH Probe - Neptune Systems $400
Vortech MP40: VorTech MP40wQD QuietDrive Propeller Pump - EcoTech Marine $350
Aquaillumination Hydra: Hydra FiftyTwo HD LED (White) - Aqua Illumination $600
Aquaroche rocks: Reef system – base rocks | Aquaroche Approx $100
JBJ ATO: JBJ A.T.O. Water Level Controller $80

That $2830 assuming everything new/full retail.
 
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<Moderation Tools>
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Don't forget sand, salt, heater, hydrometer, filter material, glass cleaner.

$40-60 in Caribsea Tahitian Moon white sand
-A lot of people buy pool sand cuz it's cheap af, but I think it looks cheap unless you have a 200g tank.
$55 bucket of Instant Ocean, should last the first couple months
$25 150w EHEIM Jager heater and $40 temp controller
$10 plastic hydrometer (go digital if you're going for fancy corals)
$10 media -I love this stuff. You can cut it to size, it's cheap, and effective. White side facing the flow of water.
$20 Mag float glass cleaner

$1100 75g tank with 20g sump Glasscages.com - Online Order Form - 75 Tall (Rimless) Glass Aquarium
-Pick the following: Reef Ready, low iron glass, bulk heads, stand and sump
-Alternate with canopy option Glasscages.com - Online Order Form - 75 Tall Glass Aquarium
$289 skimmer https://www.marinedepot.com/AquaMaxx_ConeS_CO_1_In_Sump_Protein_Skimmer_In_Sump_Protein_Skimmers_for_Aquariums_Reefs-AquaMaxx-UJ00154-FIPSIS-vi.html

Alternate lighting options
2x
...still pissed BuildMyLED stopped doing marine lighting. I have one they built for my fresh water tank that's absolutely badass. $300, custom light profile.
I've also got a buddy that builds LED's for horticulture, that he can just change the spectrum to be appropriate for a marine aquarium. He's got an ap where you just punch in the spectrum needs and the company builds out led strips to those specifications/brightness/PAR/etc, and he mounts them to a 1/8" sheet of aluminum. Pretty cheap, too. Not pretty, but very, very effective and a canopy would hide it. He accidentally turned on a giant sheet in my direction, a sheet that was intended for a large warehouse, and I had a giant white spot in my vision for a good 30 minutes.

Alternative rock suppliers
- Dry Live Rock for Sale | Aragonite Sand | Aquarium Supply - Marco Rocks
- Rock - Reef Cleaners

$56 snail package Quick Crews : Quick Crew (75 Gallon) - Reef Cleaners
 

suineg

<Donors Crew>
27,623
25,105
32d 21h 14m
Also remember I had a 55G reef for a year before an extended power outage while out of town for two days. So I understand a lot of the needs and such but 15+ years the hobby has changed dramatically and so wanted to get other opinions on some of the items. That’s why I was leaning towards an AiO even though I built my last setup. Just wanted to turn it on, throw some live rock in, buy a cleaner package and revisit it in 6 weeks after full cycling.
 
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Frenzied Wombat

<Donors Crew>
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Really the only gotcha with a build your own vs an AIO is the plumbing. Tight, clean, plumbing around the sump is a must and you have to do it yourself, so if you have no experience it can be problem doing it nicely. The cadlights system come with the plumbing, but you still have to cut and glue things to size. Other than that buying individuals components is the way to go.

Glasscages at least used to have a bad rep on reefcentral for sloppy silicone work, but things may have changed since then.

My personal preference is for fake rock over live because you don’t risk bristle worms or other potential nastiness, but that’s a personal thing- it does take a bit longer to cycle tank.

Tbh the best use for AIO is if you get serious, get one of those 10g nano aoi and use it as a quarantine tank.
 
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For cycling a tank I just used real, dead rock, with a small seed rock from a LFS, or a piece of cycled filter material added to the sump.
 
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Hosix

All labs matter!
<Donors Crew>
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For cycling a tank I just used real, dead rock, with a small seed rock from a LFS, or a piece of cycled filter material added to the sump.
I always did a seed rock and a piece of filter material from a donor tank. I recommend this way.
 
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Halan

Silver Knight of the Realm
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My brother is opening a reef/fish supply store and has tanks and tanks of corals they are growing along with fish they are breeding. These are a couple quick pics i took when i was there. I will post more if there is interest.

20181103_194049594_iOS.jpg


20181103_194102623_iOS.jpg
 

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River City Aquatics in north Austin has a setup very similar to that. Shallow water, bunch of circular coral frags for seeding. Similar lighting, specific for coral growth, not for appearance. Like magenta lighting for lettuce. Different lighting and tanks for each soft, LPS, and a few SPS corals. I should drop by and take a few updated pics.
 
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suineg

<Donors Crew>
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I have been browsing Facebook market and craigslist for weeks now!! Proud of myself for not buying brand new equipment but seeing what I can find used.

I think the main thing is trying to find the right tank that isn't beat to all hell and just talks to me. Oh and it needs to not be 300 miles away.