First Saltwater Tank on a Budget

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natureandwildlife

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I have 2 Freshwater tanks right now and I'm wanting to switch my 10 gallon to a saltwater tank. I'm mostly interested in having beautiful corals. I would like to add some fish down the road but I'm not concerned about that right now. Seeing as I just set up a terrarium for my new bearded dragon, I really don't want to spend a fortune on this little tank. However, I don't want my tank to fail either. I would appreciate if you all could tell me what I need and what corals I could get. I have little knowledge of Saltwater tanks so details would be appreciated. I would love if you could give me links to some cheaper products. I definitely don't want to spend a fortune on a light. I would love to keep different types of corals with different shapes, colors, and textures. I would love to keep an anemone too. I already have the 10 gallon tank, a lid with a light what will likely not be suitable, a heater, and a filter that is not fantastic. I could get another filter or add a sponge filter in addition to what I already have. Also, is a lid a necessity on a Saltwater tank? Are there things that I need to add to the water? Thank you so much! I know that my many questions are probably overwhelming.
 

saltwater60

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A 10 gallon tank is very small for a reef tank so the stocking will be limited on fish. Also saltwater tanks are significantly more expensive than freshwater tanks so that will be an issue for you.
Yes you’ll need a lid to reduce evaporation and daily fresh water top offs to keep salt from fluctuating.
First you’ll need salt
Then you’ll need an RODI unit or a place to get RODI water. Tap water is no good for reef tanks.
Argonite based sand
Live rock
Test kits for water quality for salt water like salifert
Minerals calcium, alk, magnesium
Test kits for minerals and phosphate
A good Heater
A good quality filter like tidal 50
Powerhead for increased water flow
I’d get an led light. The corals you get will dictate the light needed
If you choose not to have a protein skimmer you’ll need to do more frequent or larger water changes about 40% weekly. Your nitrates should be as close to zero as possible.
You’ll need a refractometer to test salt not the floating stick ones they are garbage.
Tds meter if you’re getting your own RODI unit.
You’ll need measuring cups, tweezers, Tongs, turkey baster and some other misc stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting something.
As for fish you’d only be able to get one or two small fish. Clown goby or court jester goby come to mind.

As for corals really anything is fair game. If you want an anemone I’d get a rock or flower anemone or a maxi mini carpet. Although I’d wait until you have more experience to get those.
I personally like LPS corals like acanastreas, hammer corals, brain corals, and blastomussa. A coral can be $50-$100 alone. You can find some in the $20-$30 range at times.
For a 10 gallon fully stocked with proper equipment you’re probably looking at $500+ to a $1000 depending on corals and light you choose. Just be prepared it won’t be a $100-$200 endeavor. Of course the corals can be bought over time one by one.
 
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natureandwildlife

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saltwater60 said:
A 10 gallon tank is very small for a reef tank so the stocking will be limited on fish. Also saltwater tanks are significantly more expensive than freshwater tanks so that will be an issue for you.
Yes you’ll need a lid to reduce evaporation and daily fresh water top offs to keep salt from fluctuating.
First you’ll need salt
Then you’ll need an RODI unit or a place to get RODI water. Tap water is no good for reef tanks.
Argonite based sand
Live rock
Test kits for water quality for salt water like salifert
Minerals calcium, alk, magnesium
Test kits for minerals and phosphate
A good Heater
A good quality filter like tidal 50
Powerhead for increased water flow
I’d get an led light. The corals you get will dictate the light needed
If you choose not to have a protein skimmer you’ll need to do more frequent or larger water changes about 40% weekly. Your nitrates should be as close to zero as possible.
You’ll need a refractometer to test salt not the floating stick ones they are garbage.
Tds meter if you’re getting your own RODI unit.
You’ll need measuring cups, tweezers, Tongs, turkey baster and some other misc stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting something.
As for fish you’d only be able to get one or two small fish. Clown goby or court jester goby come to mind.

As for corals really anything is fair game. If you want an anemone I’d get a rock or flower anemone or a maxi mini carpet. Although I’d wait until you have more experience to get those.
I personally like LPS corals like acanastreas, hammer corals, brain corals, and blastomussa. A coral can be $50-$100 alone. You can find some in the $20-$30 range at times.
For a 10 gallon fully stocked with proper equipment you’re probably looking at $500+ to a $1000 depending on corals and light you choose. Just be prepared it won’t be a $100-$200 endeavor. Of course the corals can be bought over time one by one.
Thank you for laying everything out so clearly. I appreciate it. Would a glass lid be acceptable? I didn't realize that I couldn't use tap water with conditioner so now I'll just plan to get premixed saltwater from my local aquarium store. How beneficial is it to get live sand? Do you need to have a complete cycle before you add corals? Is there a species of clownfish that could go in a 10 gallon? I would be ok with having just one fish and a small clean-up crew. What minerals would I need? Would the API Reef Master Test Kit be sufficient? Is one frequently cleaned sponge filter enough? I'm guessing not. Would two 530GPH powerheads do the trick? I would like a lot of water movement as long as it's not bad for the tank. If you had to estimate, how many watts would the light need to be? Lastly, a hydrometer is not good?
 

saltwater60

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Glass lid is just fine.
one Ocellaris clown fish should be fine. But that tank is boarder line.
live sand is helpful but if you’re getting wet love rock you don’t need it. I’d do the live sand and get dry rock. It will be cheaper that way.
minerals were laid out in last post. If you’re doing soft corals regular water change should be fine. If you’re doing corals with a skeleton you’ll need calcium, alkalinity, magnesium. That’s the stuff they use to build their skeletons.
I personally like Red Sea or salifert test kits. I’ve never used api, but many in here don’t like them for saltwater. None of the reef stores by me carry it so there must be a reason.
I’ve never used a sponge filter for a saltwater tank and never known anyone who has. I’d get a descent HOB filter with a skimmer like the tidal series 50. You’ll only need one small powerhead then.
two powerheads at 500 gph is way oversized. That’s almost 20 times per hour in a small tank. I’d think the tidal 50 at full blast might be enough flow on its own. Water flow will also depend on corals species as well
watts don’t mean squat in reef tanks it’s the par rating that matters. To anwser that I’d need to know the corals you want. Soft corals need a lot less than say a clam or acroporas do.
Last no way no how should you get any corals while cycling your tank. It’s almost certain disaster and death for corals.
Hydro meters are junk. Get a refractometer for sure.
 
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