Good morning! I'm new to EVERYTHING!


Shield Maiden of Rohan
Hey everyone! I'd like to start a saltwater aquarium and I've come to this forum to hopefully find some buddies to help guide me along the way. I've never had an aquarium, fresh, salt, or otherwise. Heck, I've never even had a goldfish! I have been reading a bit and I've watched almost all of the videos from BulkReefSupply on YouTube.

From what I've read, it's best that I start with a 50 gallon tank (or larger) and one or two fish (after my water has cycled of course).

I think I have an idea of the equipment I'll need, but a list would be much appreciated! I live in Las Vegas and I run my downstairs air conditioner (yes I have two lol) at 82 degrees (that thing is expensive!). Will I need a chiller at this temperature? I would like to get a sump if it's going to make the process easier. Also, what are your thoughts on glass vs acrylic tanks? There is a two-year old in the house.

The most burning question on my mind is what will it cost to start up? I would like to start with a decent tank. I guess I mean I don't want to drive around garage sales looking for second hand equipment, I want to skip test kits and just start with items with digital readouts, etc. I mean I don't want to buy something, and then have to buy something else that does the same thing only faster and better again later. It seems like a waste to me.

As far as goals go, my fairly ambitious goal is to eventually house one or two mandarins. My pipe dream is to have an octopus, but from what I understand, you need to have a mastery of the hobby.

Also, I saw a video on LED lighting for tanks (I think it was the EcoTech Radeon) and loved the effect it gave! I didn't like the effect it would have on my wallet though. Does anyone have any experience with DIY LED lighting? Or really DIY anything?

Are there any books that you'd recommend? I've done a Google search and it seems the top rated saltwater books focus mostly on the coral aspect of the hobby and I'm undecided on whether or not I want to add coral/anemones. Okay this post is long enough now. I apologize if there are misspellings, as I wrote this on my phone.

Any input is appreciated! Also, feel free to PM me! I need a few friends! :D
hello wrx
welcome to living reefs :)
try to get the biggest tank you can from the start
do you want a sump tank to hide all the equip and to maybe have a refugium in there to culture micro life and to help with nutrient export
skimmer heater reactor scrubber etc etc in the sump ???
and will need plenty of live rock in the display tank with
a good population of pods for a pair of mandarins to thrive
and maybe even culture you own even for them
tisbe pods are the best ive read
and tbo they are not the best fish to put in first ??
they would like a nice mature reef setup
the radion leds are some piece of kit and you wouldn't go far wrong with 1 of them and can control with a ipad lol
maxspect razors are good too and give a nice spectrum out
remember take it slow and you wont go far wrong
am sure there will be plenty of people on here to guide you through each step along the way
I would go for a glass tank myself but its down to personal preference at the end of the day
you picked a great hobby and will get a mahoooosive amount of pleasure out of it
I know I have :)
nice 1 johnny
It seems like having a sump provides multiple benefits both aesthetic and practical. I'd like to have one to hide all the junk and also I've read the additional volume of water helps stabilize the system too.

I have read a little bit about mandarins and realize I should have the tank going for at least a year before I try to introduce them into the tank, but what should I keep in the tank in the meantime? I'd like to get seahorses, but from what I understand, there are very few species that work well as tankmates for them. Any suggestions on species I should stock before I try out mandarins?
Most important question first is cost: if you're careful and don't use a sump, for a 55 you can get started for around $1200-1500 plus rock, sand, fish, etc...its a very expensive hobby. And with 82℉, you can get away with no chiller, but that's the high side of the temp range, I like mine between 79-80°. With a sump, you've noticed the benefits, so if its affordable, go with the largest you can, and for a 55, a 20 long tank works well, but I would use a 30 long if you can. That tank is about twice the price new, though (around here).

As far as glass vs. acrylic, they both have strong points. I would use glass because its harder to scratch and easier to clean. Hell, I use the 10/$1 britta pads from the grocery store.

Lastly, LEDs ate the best technology and seeing that you're ambient temperature is already high, they're probably your only option without running a chiller. The Rations are great, but expensive, however they can also sync together and with the Vortech pumps and be customized. If you don't want $1500 in lights and pumps alone, I suggest the ReefBreeders lights. They're not quite as cool, but almost.

If you have anymore questions, just ask! I think I got them all for now.
Welcome to the site! I don't know how it is in Vegas but here in Lower Alabama you can pick up some amazing deals on Craigslist. Complete setups well under the cost of buying new. Keep an eye out in your area so you can save yourself some coin.
Welcome aboard!!
Agreed. Craigslist is awesome. That's where I found my tank.
Depending on how big of a tank you go with, you're probably going to be limited to one mandarin. It's hard to get a bonded pair and they could fight. This is not to mention that if they will not accept frozen food, you have to keep your pod supply up for them to not starve to death. Another great reason to have a sump with some live rock and macro algae, it's somewhere for pods to breed where no fish can eat them and then they will travel to the display through your return pump. I knew I wanted a mandarin so I have way more live rock in my system than most people. Seahorses would probably do okay with a mandarin friend, but seahorses are definitely not a beginner fish.
If you aren't doing corals or anything photosynthetic, you can get away with going pretty cheap on the lights, though like you said, better to not have to rebuy later if you decide to go reef. Your best bet is going to be to see what others are using on a similar tank to what you end up with. Look through the build threads. Like Kyle mentioned, with a room temp of 82, you will want LED so that you aren't heating up the water. Metal Halide and T5 systems produce A LOT of heat and will quickly overheat the tank without a chiller. I like my tank at 78, personally.
One thing that hasn't been mentioned that you will need is a good protein skimmer. Another really great youtube channel is Mr. Saltwater Tank. Check him out
Welcome Aboard!

You've found a Great Forum for asking questions! The folks here are very friendly and will do their best to answer your questions. I had tons of questions and they have helped me immensely.

As far as money goes, here is what I've spent, so far... I copied this from my introduction thread...

LFS Items
CaribSea Sand ($1/pound $120)
Dry Rock. 54 pounds ($3.50/pound $189)
PowerHead, 1,500gph ($70)

Petsmart Items
Salt for 160g, ($45)
SW/Reef Test Kit, ($30)
Two Thermometers, ($12)
Putty for Dry Rock ($9)
Large Magnetic Tank Scraper, ($12 on Sale. This was a great deal, $39 @LFS)
Other small misc items, (<$15)

After taxes, I spent around $540 today.

$540 today for supplies above +
$231 for a 75gallon per day 5 Stage RO/DI Filtration system w/2 TDS Meters & a complete set of Replacement Filters +
$190 for a Used Chiller/Heater Combo +
$103 Filtration Media +
$150 for 125g Tank & Stand (including filter box, skimmer, T5 Day & Moon Lights, 1,200gph PowerHead and Delivery of Tank/Stand)

All-In Total Investment = $1,214

Since that post, I bought:
Another 60 pounds of Dry Rock @ $3.50/pound
1,000 gallon per hour HOB Overflow for the Sump $90
1,000 gallon per hour Sump Return Pump $90
Plumbing parts $60
I still need a good Protein Skimmer, $200 - The one that came with my tank is pretty much junk...
I will probably buy another 75+ pounds of Dry Rock.

I am NOT using the filter box that I got with the tank and I returned the filter media I purchased for it. Filter boxes tend to be Nitrate factories, I've come to learn. So, unless you want to spend ridiculous amounts on keeping fresh filters in them every few days, you are probably better off without one.

I started a thread that compiled most of my questions I had about starting a tank and all of the great answers I got from the folks here in this thread:

If you read my introduction thread:

You will find a LOT of other great advice I have received from folks here on getting started in the SW Aquarium Hobby.

I recommend Glass tanks, I have always used glass in FW tanks after seeing what happened to a friends Acrylic tank when he used a scrubby sponge on it to clean the algae... Glass is sturdy & very scratch resistant, but HEAVY in a large tank. Acrylic can be drilled for custom plumbing, though... If you don't think you will have to worry about scratching and are or know someone who is handy with plumbing, you may want to go acrylic.

I got a pretty good deal on my tank, stand & T5 Lighting, $150 for them.

You should buy the Largest Tank & Sump you can afford! Buying a used tank will save you a ton of money and you are going to need the money you save! This is a very expensive hobby, especially when getting set up... If you do buy a used tank, sterilize it with water & white vinegar in a 50/50 ratio and rinse, rinse and rinse again and again. Buy fresh sand & rocks if you buy a used tank, you have no idea what is in the sand and if Live Rock is out of the tank for very long, it will start dying, Quickly...

No matter what size tank you get, you will realize you want a bigger one. My 125g hasn't finished cycling and I am already thinking about a larger tank for my bedroom or as in In-Wall tank between the Kitchen & Living Room.

Yes, the added water volume of a sump will make your water conditions more stable.

I am new to the hobby as well, so I cannot help you much with stocking your tank but Clownfish seem to be a very common first fish... I am buying a pair of (probably mated) black clowns as soon as my tank finishes cycling as my first fish, if someone doesn't buy them before my tank finishes cycling.

The folks here will help you out quite a bit on setup, stocking, equipment, etc...
Thank you everyone for the Craigslist suggestion! I just happened to find a brand new listing for a glass 125 gallon tank (I was originally only hoping for a 50) for $125.00. This seems like a spectacular deal compared to other tanks listed on Craigslist. Am I correct to assume this? Or are the other tanks just outrageously overpriced?
Both. I don't look at tanks over $1/gal or maybe $1.50/gal for large tanks. If I can buy it new for 25% more, its not a good deal imo.
If it has the lighting system with it, take the deal... If you can talk them out of any equipment to go with it at that price, even better... You may show up to get it with part of your money stashed in a pocket and tell them all you have is X amount and see if they will ease back on the price...

Surely, a Shield Maiden of Rohan can talk someone into a deal... 8)
I have 4 1050's but I have some sps so I had to have some high flow. With my return pump added in Im at 40x turnover per hour. Youd be at 17ish- if youre planning on a sump you might get 20x but thats bare minimum. Id invest in a third powerhead, and if you want sps might need a 4th.

Edit: Also, google their reputation of running backwards on a wavemaker. Theres a delicate piece in the design that breaks frequently. Ive had to get 2 new covers in the last 6 months. They know its a problem so they send new ones out readily which is a silver lining I guess but the hassle stinks and I cant afford two MP 40s
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I definitely do plan on getting a sump for my tank.

What size sump would you recommend? Also, what flow rate multiple should I have? I don't plan on having sps any time soon, as I understand they are a little higher maintenance and I am a beginner.
A 125gl is a great starter tank since things will be esier to keep stable, I got my 125 from clist for 150$ with stand heater and hang on back filters, ofcourse now I have sump and all that stuff. But yeah just remember water changes will be a bit more expensive so plan on maybe getting a ro/di system and mixing container to make your own water. it will be cheaper in the long run.

By the way is the WRX stand for the Subaru maybe ??
...plan on maybe getting a ro/di system and mixing container to make your own water. it will be cheaper in the long run.

By the way is the WRX stand for the Subaru maybe ??

I was wondering the same thing about the WRX... Love Subarus...

RODI is a great way to go! I couldn't imagine trying to stuff all of those water bottles in my car or truck for that matter. Even if you use 5 gal jugs, it's going to take a bunch!
it all depends how often she would be doing water changes but yeah if it was weekly then 3 or 4 5gl jugs if its by weekly then about 6 or 7 jugs.

But yeah im a big Subie fan my self, Actually planning on getting a STI some time in the next couple years now that my Civic Si is paid off.
Haha! Yes! I have a 2002 Subaru WRX. I'm pretty sure it has made me a Subaru loyalist. She's very fun and the awd is worth the lesser gas mileage.

I was definitely planning on getting an RODI system (especially since I just found out Las Vegas is #3 on the top 10 cities with the worst water). The fellow I bought the tank from recommended I go with 6 stage. I saw some pretty good prices on eBay, but I am wary. Has anyone purchased a system on eBay?

Also, my tank didn't come with a stand. :grumble: Can anyone recommend where to purchase one or get one made?
Oh nice you have a bug eye subie, I love those. Yeah defenetly love AWD, had a Evo8 for a bit and I loved the AWD but after driving a STI I can say I love it a lot more.

As far as RODI goes you can do with a 5 stage.. I got mine from clist and it works fine, I replaced all the filter with new one from marinedepot and I get 0 TDS now.
STIs are great for those that can afford them. I fell in love with the Subaru purr. No other car sounds like that. (Dreamy sigh). Kinda funny you live in MoVal. I used to live in Redlands and Loma Linda. The AWD would be fantastic driving through the canyon. Just watch out for the burros! Lol