Starting My First Reef Setup - 30 Gallon Tank

Discussion in 'New to Reefing' started by psk787, Oct 5, 2007.

  1. psk787

    psk787

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    I just bought a 30 gallon tank to start what I'd like to be a nice reef setup. I'm not looking for anything too crazy, more just to get started, work with a smaller setup and then use that experience when I buy my own house and can establish a permanent setup in something more like a 150 gallon.

    I understand that in addition to the base rock, live rock, live sand and sea salt for the base of the tank I need several pieces of mechanical equipment such as a powerhead and protein skimmer. Can someone help with a more descriptive list of what items I need to get my system cycling, I'm not worried about fish yet, I just want to get my system up and running so I can start tweaking it as needed to be able to introduce fish. Are there any types of filters, heaters and powerheads that are better suited for what I am trying to do? Should I buy two powerheads to create a better current If I am working on a limited budget and adding pieces as I go, is there any order to what I should buy first?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am excited to get into saltwater setups, I currently have a 55 gallon freshwater setup that has my cichlids in it and they're awesome.

    Thanks everyone! I'll post pictures as soon as I get some to show.:helm2:
     
    psk787, Oct 5, 2007
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  2. psk787

    Ctimpson

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    Welcome Bro... I too started with a 60 gallon African tank and let me tell you will quickly will lose interest with them. First you need to determine what you want to keep. Whether a FOWLR ( Fish Only With Live Rock) or a full reef tank, that will be the first step in getting you where you want to be... Second, you will want anywhere from 1 to 2 lbs of Live Rock for either system... Add your LR then your sand and fill with RO salt water most likely from your LFS... You will want to let your tank cycle for anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks until your ammonia. nitrite, and nitrate all test at 0... Research your lights very well, you will need a minimum of 3 watts per gallon if you want to keep corals... Hope this gets you started, I will let others chime in and give you some advice... My advice to you is to really listen to what people like Biff, reeffreak, dr. Marco and others that have been around this hobby for awhile and really heed their advice...
     
    Ctimpson, Oct 5, 2007
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  3. psk787

    Ctimpson

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    Protein skimmers and your lights will most likely cost you the most money and they are definately not the place you want to skimp on money... Check out skimmers like Euro Reef, Aqua C, and ASM skimmers... Also for lighting I would suggest something like the JBJ K2 viper clamp on Metal Halide... The 150 watt halide will run you like 200.00 new but you can pick them up for like 150.00 slightly used... You will also want to supplement it with some t5 actinics, to make your corals really glow... As far as powerheads, the Koralia's from Hydor are probably the most popular... I run Maxi jets 1200's on a wavemaker and I like them a lot... Plus you can get two Maxi Jets for like 30.00, as opposed to the Koralia's that run anywhere from 40 to 60.00 each... As far as a filter, that is what your LR is for, however you might want to think about setting up a sump or refugium underneath your tank, which will add more gallons to your system and in turn add more stability to you tank... Check out the articles under the forum section and read all of them carefully... There is a great articles about sumps and refugiums in there... Good Luck...Feel free to post any more questions you have...
     
    Ctimpson, Oct 5, 2007
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  4. psk787

    Doc I don't work for anybody

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    Welcome to the forum. Your initial question is very broad and there are volumes of information written about what you are trying to accomplish. Search the past posts to find answers to general questions and invest in a book about the hobby that will show you pictures and give you some more basic information. Don't go out to buy anything until you know what you want to do with your system. There are so many gadgets to waste your money on that may not be necessary for your system. Once you have an idea of what you want, ask us specific questions and we will do what we can to give you direction.

    -Dr Marco :sfish:
     
    Doc, Oct 5, 2007
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  5. psk787

    Ctimpson

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  6. psk787

    Piggy

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    Welcome. Got to agree decide what your plans for your tank are first. The biggest investment are the protein skimmer and lights. Have you decided if you want a sump? No filter is needed that's what LR is for. You'll need 1-2 pounds per gallon. A lot of reefers use the Coralife Super skimmer and T5 for lighting. As for powerheads Koralia are one of the best. Also you'll need a heater,testing kits, and a theometer. Plus salt mix and sand.
     
    Piggy, Oct 5, 2007
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  7. psk787

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    Welcome to the reef and the addiction.
    Heres a little more food for thought.What type of fish,corals,and inverts do you want to keep?Planning that out before hand will go a long a way in your decision making.
    On your rock,Buy at least enough of the cheap base rock to get above the sand.Then place the live rock on top of that.
    And remember the number one rule of reefing,,GO SLOW.
     
    yote, Oct 5, 2007
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  8. psk787

    reeffreak

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    I have to agree with everyone else.Your questions are very broad and to answer them we need a little more information.

    What are your plans on stocking?
    I asked the question because there are many choices in lighting.The only thing I know is that you want to do this on a budget.You can have a successful reef with 1-2lbs per gallon of live rock,skimmer, and powerheads/circulation pumps.Of course you will need good lights for corals,clams and anemones.

    For now here is list of relatively inexpensive equipment.
    Current Nova T5 lighting
    Koralias circulation pumps or maxijets(2 of them would be my choice)
    Octopus skimmer or Coralife Super Skimmer.
     
    reeffreak, Oct 6, 2007
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  9. psk787

    Doc I don't work for anybody

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    if you stock lightly, which means 1 inch of fish per 5 gallons of water - so let's see, carry the 8...6 inches of fish in your tank, you won't need a skimmer. If you push the stocking limits on your tank, you will need to a skimmer. The only problem with this hobby is that you fall in love with so many fish and try to cram them into a tank that you thought would fit them all. They need so much room to swim and feel secure, that even a modest sized 55 gallon tank can barely house ONE 10 inch fish or two 5 inch fish. For that reason, the best advice is to go as BIG as you can at the start. I thought I did with a 125, but I realize that I really needed a 400 gallon. Now, I have to settle for two 90's and a 125 until I can beat up enough elderly folk to amass the funds needed to buy a $4,000 tank. Anyway, best of luck to you.

    -Dr Marco :sfish:
     
    Doc, Oct 6, 2007
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  10. psk787

    Rcpilot

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    I'm already eyeballing my 30g tank and thinking it will make a nice refugium someday. :lol: 30g is small. I look at mine now and it just looks like you could spit 3 times and it would be full.

    I have 3 fish in my 30g tall tank. The tank is 24" wide x 24" tall x 12" deep from front too back.
    diamond watchman goby
    6-line wrasse
    ocellaris clown

    That's all the fish I will ever put in my tank. I want a tank with a lot of inverts instead. I have 61lbs of rock in mine. I originally set a goal of 90 pounds, but I now realize that is impossible if I want to ever see anything. The tank would literally be stuffed, with 90lbs of rock. Shoot for at least 45lbs and think about slowing down around 55-60lbs. Take a look at it and evaluate how much moving and aquascaping you'll have to do each time you want to add a frag.

    I would really recommend that you get a skimmer. I am fairly new to reefing, but I have already realized the benefits of a good skimmer.

    Try and avoid the costly equipment mistakes that we've all made. I bought cheap Power Compact (PC) lights 3 months ago. Took me a month to realize how limited I would be in my choice of corals. PC just don't cut it, if you want to get serious. I just received my new T5 lights from the brown truck today. A lot of extra money spent to improve my lighting in the tank. Should have coughed up the cash in the first place to get the sweet lighting unit.

    I also bought a HOB (hang on back) refugium that didn't incorporate a skimmer. I bought my skimmer seperately and ended up fighting microbubbles in my tank all the time. Had I spent the extra $50 up front to buy the refugium with the skimmer, I wouldn't have had to buy it 2 months later. Cost me double for my refugium, because I bought 2.

    Don't buy cheap powerheads either. I found some cheap powerheads on sale at an online retailer. Ended up spending $25 on powerheads that didn't perform as advertised. Then spent $40 more on good Maxi-Jet powerheads.

    Lots of equipment to waste money on in this hobby. Do your homework first and decide how you want to build this reef. Fish only? SPS only? LPS with leathers? zoas and mushrooms? or a mixed bag? After you figure out what specific "discipline" you want to tackle, tell us and we'll help you find good equipment.

    The equipment is the lifeblood of your system. Spend the money to buy the good stuff up front, because you'll just be disappointred if you don't. Then you'll be even more disappointed when you have to cough up the cash to buy the good stuff a month later.

    I tell people this about model airplanes all the time. Buy good batteries. Buy EXPENSIVE batteries and throw them away after 1 season of use. You can land a model airplane without an engine. Just line it up and land it. You can land without a rudder--perfectly okay to fly using just the ailerons. You can land without landing gear. If something fails in the retractable landing gear system--just flop it into the tall ggrass for a baby soft landing. But if your battery fails in an RC plane--all you can do is stand there and watch it either A) fly off to Kansas, or B) smack the ground at high velocity.

    Buy good equipment. :Cheers:

    Edit:
    I just went back and read my post here. Sorry for sounding like a broken record. I think I got my point across. Just hate to see somebody else making the same mistakes that I did.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2007
    Rcpilot, Oct 6, 2007
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  11. psk787

    reeffreak

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    Rc,you sure like to type!
     
    reeffreak, Oct 6, 2007
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  12. psk787

    Doc I don't work for anybody

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    yeah, my eyes started going cross-eyed with that last post RC, but great advice nonetheless.

    -Dr Marco :sfish:
     
    Doc, Oct 6, 2007
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  13. psk787

    reeffreak

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    Doc,you read the whole thing?
    I didn't have the attention span to read it all.
     
    reeffreak, Oct 6, 2007
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  14. psk787

    Doc I don't work for anybody

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    I did some skimming. I got lost with the part about the airplane. My brain could not wrap itself around such a complex concept at this hour of night.

    -Dr Marco :sfish:
     
    Doc, Oct 6, 2007
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  15. psk787

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    Y'all gotta remember that Rc is a salesman,:mrgreen:
    He's used to making those long sales speaches.lol

    Got some great advice though.
     
    yote, Oct 6, 2007
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  16. psk787

    Doc I don't work for anybody

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    good point. I was wondering why I had the urge to run screaming....just teasing RC

    -Dr Marco :sfish:
     
    Doc, Oct 6, 2007
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  17. psk787

    psk787

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    Everyone, thanks for the great advice. A very good friend of mine has had a saltwater reef setup for several months now and I learned very early on that if I was going to do this I was going to do it right, hence my first post I guess, trying to narrow down what I will need and what products are junk as opposed to those that really work well. I know once I move into my own place that I will want to do a larger 150 gallon or so saltwater reef setup. I thought that once I did this I would use my 30 gallon as the refugium as it'd already be established. Until that time I thought I could use the 30 gallon as my training wheels and hopefully be able to use the same equipment, obviously with the additional equipment on my larger setup. I don't know how do-able that is.

    Having said that, I figured I would only be able to house a small number of fish. I want to get an anemone and a clownfish as its the only way I could talk the fiance into letting me get another aquarium. (she loved Finding Nemo). Aside from that I wanted to find another fish or maybe two that would work well with my clown. My buddies clown is pretty mean towards the other damsels he has. I want a couple shrimp. I love the blood red fire shrimp, they're cool. A starfish or two possibly and I think I'd be happy. I'm not too decided on anything aside from the anemone and clownfish and I'd really like the BRFS, maybe a banded coral shrimp or something else like that. I want as much color and "pop" as I can get. I like the featherdusters my buddy has and would like to incorporate other inverts like that to add movement and life to my reef system.

    I think my very first step would be to get my live sand and base rock and a powerhead so that I can get the saltwater mix in there and let it start to cycle. Is there anything else right off the bat I should include into this equation? Would a heater be necessary at this stage? After that I would purchase the lights and protein skimmer and another powerhead to ensure a good ciculation.

    Any advice on my reasoning and ideas? I am ready to take it slow and do this right. Again, thank you guys for the help, I became addicted with my cichlids and am falling further and further down the spiral... has anyone lost a relationship due to severe aquarium infatuation?:D
     
    psk787, Oct 7, 2007
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  18. psk787

    yote Ceritfied Mantis Hunter Moderator

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    You might want to go ahead and most if not all your live rock too.That way you wont have the risk of another cycle later on.

    Think long and hard about that coral banded shrimp to.I had one that loved to munch on corals and chased my fish.
     
    yote, Oct 8, 2007
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  19. psk787

    d.french

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    i agree, no coral banded shrimp, they like to kill other shrimp and crabs.
     
    d.french, Oct 8, 2007
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  20. psk787

    fishbait I found Nemo

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    haven't lost a relationship to my tank addiction. but, it sure has stressed it from time to time.
     
    fishbait, Oct 8, 2007
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