How hard a 30 gallon saltwater tank would be to maintain?

bettafanatic
  • #1
Before I go crazy and start buying equipment for saltwater setup I need to know how hard a 30 gallon would be to maintain? I've always heard with saltwater, bigger the better as far as stability; how true is this? Would a 30 gallon be too small or difficult? All I want are some coral, an anemone, 2 clown fish and a few shrimp and snails. Nothing crazy.
 
bettafanatic
  • Thread Starter
  • #2
Also what filter, lighting and skimmers do I need? What is best for tracking salinity? Do I need chemicals if using distilled water with salt?
 
ValerieAdams
  • #3
If you go to the saltwater beginners section and read through the stickies, it will give you some info on the questions you are asking.

A lot of people on here say a 20 gallon long is a perfect first salty tank, though a 30 would be fine too. If you're only wanting two clown fish then I would assume you could save a few bucks and go the 20 long route too.

stella1979 is great at explaining salty things!
 
bettafanatic
  • Thread Starter
  • #4
If you go to the saltwater beginners section and read through the stickies, it will give you some info on the questions you are asking.

A lot of people on here say a 20 gallon long is a perfect first salty tank, though a 30 would be fine too. If you're only wanting two clown fish then I would assume you could save a few bucks and go the 20 long route too.

stella1979 is great at explaining salty things!
Ok I'll go look at the posts. I already have the 30 gallon tank that is why I was asking about that. I was debating on doing a 65g if 30 gallon is too small but I need a tank no longer than 3ft for the spot I want it in my office.
 
ValerieAdams
  • #5
Ok I'll go look at the posts. I already have the 30 gallon tank that is why I was asking about that. I was debating on doing a 65g if 30 gallon is too small but I need a tank no longer than 3ft for the spot I want it in my office.
I think 30 would be a great size then! You could even get more than just a couple clowns if you wanted
 
bettafanatic
  • Thread Starter
  • #6
I think 30 would be a great size then! You could even get more than just a couple clowns if you wanted
I absolutely LOVE clowns and have always wanted some but been freaked out about saltwater. I upgraded my 30 gallon to a 44g Pentagon tank for my foyer (just waiting for its arrival) and now looking into doing my saltwater with my soon to be empty 30 gallon but I want to really look into it before going crazy and spending a ton of money! I would love seahorses but I know that is out of the question due to capability and tank size but what else would go good? Maybe some star fish? I want my clowns to be my main stars of the sea
 
ValerieAdams
  • #7
I absolutely LOVE clowns and have always wanted some but been freaked out about saltwater. I upgraded my 30 gallon to a 44g Pentagon tank for my foyer (just waiting for its arrival) and now looking into doing my saltwater with my soon to be empty 30 gallon but I want to really look into it before going crazy and spending a ton of money! I would love seahorses but I know that is out of the question due to capability and tank size but what else would go good? Maybe some star fish? I want my clowns to be my main stars of the sea
I'm no expert, I don't even have a salty tank but I'm working on it lol. I plan to do a 29 gallon with a clown or two (they are aggresive), a firefish, a pink-streaked wrasse, and a goby/shrimp pair hopefully. But that may change lol. Look here, it's a good starting point to see some possible fish for your tank! That's where I started looking into fish first.
 
FriarThomasIII
  • #8
I absolutely LOVE clowns and have always wanted some but been freaked out about saltwater. I upgraded my 30 gallon to a 44g Pentagon tank for my foyer (just waiting for its arrival) and now looking into doing my saltwater with my soon to be empty 30 gallon but I want to really look into it before going crazy and spending a ton of money! I would love seahorses but I know that is out of the question due to capability and tank size but what else would go good? Maybe some star fish? I want my clowns to be my main stars of the sea
This seems very interesting. I've always wanted to dive (get it? sorry) in to brackish and marine tanks, though keeping salinity and all in order seems a little daunting. Good luck!
 
bettafanatic
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
I'm no expert, I don't even have a salty tank but I'm working on it lol. I plan to do a 29 gallon with a clown or two (they are aggresive), a firefish, a pink-streaked wrasse, and a goby/shrimp pair hopefully. But that may change lol. Look here, it's a good starting point to see some possible fish for your tank! That's where I started looking into fish first.
Thanks! To be completely honest, I would be perfectly fine with clowns and nothing else as I know they are aggressive. Ocellaris clowns are my reason for even wanting a saltwater to begin with. They are, in my opinion, the most beautiful fish!
 
ValerieAdams
  • #10
Thanks! To be completely honest, I would be perfectly fine with clowns and nothing else as I know they are aggressive. Ocellaris clowns are my reason for even wanting a saltwater to begin with. They are, in my opinion, the most beautiful fish!
I really like clowns too! A lot of people don't like them because they are so common but I think they're very pretty and interesting. If you only want clowns, that's perfectly fine! But there are definitely more things you could put with them too
 
bettafanatic
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
I really like clowns too! A lot of people don't like them because they are so common but I think they're very pretty and interesting. If you only want clowns, that's perfectly fine! But there are definitely more things you could put with them too
Who cares about common or not. If ya like them then get them Haha!
 
xiholdtruex
  • #12
Bigger the water volume the more stable due to the amount of water. A 30 gallon tank is good if you already have it and more than enough for what you want to stock. Depending on your budget you could just test it weekly or daily for salinity with a refractometer for the budget friendly option or get a controller but its kind of costly. I recommend using RO DI water to start with a clean slate. If your water is not RO DI I usually recommend using a dechlorinator. Live rock with a power head is all the biological filtration you need in a salt water tank. In a 30 gallon tank you don't need a skimmer wcs should be enough to export nutrients. If that's not enough I recommend a hob skimmer. For asthertics and simplicity a mame nano skimmer and reef glass is what I like but there are many out there. For lighting it's a whole different animal they have t5, led hybrids , metal halide. When Stella chimes in she will be able to put more inout. Not at my PC atm so I have no links on hand.
 
Culprit
  • #13
A 30 is a good size. A bit harder to light but if your just doing FOWLR (fish only with live rock) you don'tneed good lighting.

You don't need a skimmer, but an Aquaclear 110 or 70 modded into a refugium is perfect nutrient export.

You can only get two clownfish.

Let me see. There's lots of really cool stocking options, and yu can set up a FOWLR for petty cheap. You will need:

Tank
Powerhead (I recommend the Jebao wavemakers, cheap, and work well)
Quality heater
Salt mix, spare powerehead, spare heater unless your buying your saltwater ready made from an LFS which gets expensive fast in the long run.
RODI unit (definitely worth it)
Lights

For an aneneome you will need very good lighting and good flow. A cheap budget option is a black box like a Marsaqua, but Current Marine Orbit is a very good light too. A pendant light like a AI Prime would be perfec,t but you'll need two.
 
bettafanatic
  • Thread Starter
  • #14
Budget isn't a big deal. I would rather dish it out and have easier than try and do it the cheap way. Thanks everyone
 
Culprit
  • #17
Budget isn't a big deal. I would rather dish it out and have easier than try and do it the cheap way. Thanks everyone

That's what you need to do in saltwater. Theres a few things you can budget on but more the likely it'll cost you more in the long run. These are a heater and lights. Radions are the best you can get. AI Primes also are amazing. However, if you don't want a pendant style light, SB Reef lights make really good lights. stella1979 has one of these and if she ever deicded to upgrade she could keep the light.
 
Jesterrace
  • #18
Also what filter, lighting and skimmers do I need? What is best for tracking salinity? Do I need chemicals if using distilled water with salt?

Honestly with smaller tanks it's best to keep it as simple as possible. There are very few HOB skimmers for smaller thanks that are worth the money (the Reef Octopus Classic 100 and the Eshoppes PSK-75H or PSK-100H are the only ones that come to mind). I would skip the skimmer on a smaller tank. I don't recommend using distilled water. an RODI system is the best as it strips all the solids/minerals out of the tap water, which makes it much easier to control your water source. You don't really use chemicals other than maybe bacteria and pure ammonia to start your cycle (unless you do the ghost feeding method). It's best to use chemicals only as a last resort in saltwater. The only things I regularly use in my tanks after they cycled are Carbon and GFO (Granulated Ferric Oxide). As for lighting, AIs are arguably the best bang for buck LEDs. Not the cheapest, but they offer great coral growing capabilities and full customization right out of the box (something that Kessil and Ecotech Marine Radions don't have right out of the box). A single well placed AI Prime could probably handle a 30 gallon, if you place your less demanding corals on the sides. I run a pair of the Hydra 26HDs (the prime's bigger brother) on a rail mount over my 90 gallon and they are great.

 
stella1979
  • #19
Awesome, awesome, awesome!!! Great advice given already... but here's my 2¢ anyway.

A 30 gallon is perfect!!! As said, the only real downside is the cost of lighting, which isn't a big deal if you don't want photosynthetic creatures. However, if you'd like an anemone for those clowns, well you'll need a light, so may as well go full blown mixed reef! This is why I looove hearing this.
Budget isn't a big deal. I would rather dish it out and have easier than try and do it the cheap way. Thanks everyone
So, with that in mind, you will absolutely not be disappointed if you put a pair of Radion XR15's over the tank. However, keep in mind that these top of the line lights will require additional separate purchases. Mounting arms at least, and ideally, the truly excellent diffusers available for top-notch color blending. With these things in mind, I decided not to go with multiple pendant style lights... it would have been way out of my budget. I decided on a long LED fixture instead and went with the SB Reef Lights Ultra 22 over my 20 gallon long. I also seriously considered the Maxspect Razor. Either of these provides plenty of spread for my 30-inch long tank, and either will penetrate deep enough for your 30 gallon as well. Full disclosure? I wish I could have gotten a T5 LED Hybrid. But, I am happy with my LED.

I agree with Culprit in that your best filtration would be an Aquaclear 110 or 70, modified to work as a refugium. It works very well for both of us, and personally, I know I've been overfeeding my tank for a little while now, yet I still do not have any nitrates... ever. The fuge funs 8 hours a night, and I'm pretty sure we're gonna cut those light hours down to get at least nitrates at 2-3ppm one of these days. A little nitrogen is often appreciated by softie and LPS corals... and anemones. I'd definitely start your tank with the HOB fuge option and skip the skimmer. If you find a skimmer is needed down the line, you can add one then... benefit being, you'll have some experience and know you're making the best choice for your tank.

A Cobalt Neotherm will be the best heater available. They never need calibration, are very precise and always hold a consistent temperature. Orrr, you could be neurotic like me and get yourself a temperature controller like and Inkbird. Any heater has the potential to break in the on position, and this is my thinking in running Inkbirds on 3 of my tanks. This device has a temp probe that stays in the tank, the heater plugs into the Inkbird, and it displays both the desired and current temperature. I quite like being able to visually check the temp quite easily, and from across the room. The Inkbird will cut power to a heater once the set temp is reached, making it pretty impossible to ever cook a tank. It also maintains temps within 1 degree of the setting and has audible alarms if the tank's temp goes too far outside of a set range. In this case, a super precise heater that never needs calibration is unneeded, so I saved a few pennies and went with Eheim Jagers. Of course, Neotherms are also prettier than Jagers.

Sadly, you're right, Seahorses are not for the inexperienced. Seastar care can also be a little difficult, or at least, it seems so with the ones that are good looking and reef safe. In my own research, I saw enough experienced reefers losing them so much that I decided to forgo the species for now. I do see some pretty awesome looking orange ones at the LFS often. Perhaps they are easier? Idk, and I'm not even sure of the species, but they have softer, less rigid legs, so they don't often hold a star shape. It may be these, but again, I'm not sure.


Buying your own RODI system to provide pure water which you will add salt to is definitely the safest and most budget minded way to provide saltwater for your tank in the long run.

Culprit 's list is pretty, pretty great. Whether you go with photosynthetic creatures like anemones and corals or not, you will also need rock and sand for this tank. I recommend live sand and dry rock to avoid any unwanted pests that may come with live rock. It takes longer to cycle dry rock, (took me 30 days), and depending on the type of rock you go with, it may also need curing. Curing rock is a process that most often takes place in a container, unlit and separate from the tank. The rocks are placed in heated saltwater and provided with flow, which oxygenates the water. Some rock types, (most natural dry rock), will contain dead organics, which are just the remains of tiny critters that lived in and on the rock when it was live. They will break down into phosphates and possibly nitrates. As the rock leaches phosphates, water changes and testing are done. When the water no longer contains phosphates or nitrates, the leaching, and therefore the curing process is done. Anyway, lol, I suggest going with Reef Saver rock from BRS. This is some type of natural rock, and BRS does recommend curing all dry rock, but most aquarist say it requires zero curing time. I'd skip the cure and monitor phosphates in the tank.

What's the big deal with phosphates? It's algae's favorite food, and you are trying to build a beautiful clownfish haven, not an algae garden.
 
bettafanatic
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
Thanks everyone! A lot of good info and gives me some stuff to look into! I definitely wsnt a good light as corals eventually are a must.
 
Culprit
  • #21
Thanks everyone! A lot of good info and gives me some stuff to look into! I definitely wsnt a good light as corals eventually are a must.

Yup. You don't want to start with a low light and then get hooked on corals and go, oh . I can only keep softies lol.

While you're in the research phase, I'd suggest going to places like World Wide Corals, AquaSD and Cherry Corals and just looking through your stock. Kind of get an idea of what you like. Tidal Gardens is also FANTASTIC for information on each coral. The names and types are super confusing at first, but you slowly get the hang of it until its just second nature. I'm constantly confusing my family fish fishy terms and names LOL.
 
bettafanatic
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
Yup. You don't want to start with a low light and then get hooked on corals and go, oh . I can only keep softies lol.

While you're in the research phase, I'd suggest going to places like World Wide Corals, AquaSD and Cherry Corals and just looking through your stock. Kind of get an idea of what you like. Tidal Gardens is also FANTASTIC for information on each coral. The names and types are super confusing at first, but you slowly get the hang of it until its just second nature. I'm constantly confusing my family fish fishy terms and names LOL.
Oh I will. I do have a question in regards to corals; some of my research is a bit contradicting. Some sites say you can add corals once it's cycled and some sites say to wait 6 months to a year for the tank to mature before adding corals. What is your opinion/personal experience? What about the anemone? Can I get one when I get my clowns or should I wait?
 
stella1979
  • #23
Here's my experience... Once the tank was cycled, I put in a firefish, 2 trochus, and 2 nassarius snails. When they were all still alive 3 weeks later, I picked up my first corals. Easy ones, so I could base my next coral purchase on how those first 3 did. My fourth coral was the Duncan, and there is no other coral that I could recommend as much to a beginner.

No experience with nems, but from what I've learned, bubble tips are pretty hardy. Corals and nems like stability more than anything else, so I'd say, if you can keep corals happy for a month or two, then you might start looking for a nem. That's how I'd do it anyway.
 
Culprit
  • #24
I have basically the same experience as Stella. I setup my tank, cycled it in about a week and added a Yellow watchman goby. A week or two later I got my first coral, a DUncan. From there a few weeks later I got zoas, birdsnest, and more and they've all thrived. I'd say as soon as your tank has fully cycled, no ammonia spikes, you can add your first coral. Start easy though. A Duncan is perfect because its hardy, but also will react to bad parameters by closing up. So you can watch it and figure stuff out. Then go from there.

I've wanted a bubble tip anenome for a logn time, but have'nt added one until just a few weeks ago. Its still wandering but hopefullly has settled down. I'm about 9 months in. I would wait to add an anenome at least 3+ months I would say as long as your corals are happy and params stable. Just need to get the experience with keeping parameters stable, feeding, nutrients, how corals react to stuff, ect. Also get your uglies over with and build up the biodiversity.
 
stella1979
  • #25
Go with Culprit's plan. I'd only add onto what he said about nem wandering. They will do that, and if corals are in their way, well, it could be a bad day for the corals. So, while I think it's best to start with a few corals, seeing how they do while waiting for some stability, maturity, and biodiversity... I also think it's best to add the nem somewhat early, and allow it to settle before covering your scape up with corals. Know what I mean? This is just the opinion of a reefer that doesn't have a nem but would like one if she only had a bigger tank and wasn't too worried about them taking a walk.
 
bettafanatic
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
That all sounds really good. I already started making a wishlist on amazon of the equipment I want so when I'm all ready to setup I can go and order it
 
Culprit
  • #27
Bulk Reef Supply and Marine Depot are also fantastic to order off of, sometimes better prices, always fast free shipping, and you get points which add up quick
 
thesoulpatch
  • #28
Ahem I have nothing to contribute, but I just wanted to get alerts and cheer from the sidelines.
 

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