Katie13's Lower Cost 15g Build

Katie13
  • #1
I'vs decided that I'm going to do a 15 gallon Clownfish tank next! I'm going to try to cut back on the cost of this reef especially compared to my current Saltwater tank where the light alone cost me $75 (retail price is normally $150). While my current Saltwater tank has a really nice light for all corals/anemones, I'm going to be leaning more to moderate lighting for this tank. That alone takes out a huge chunk of the cost. Here's what I've compiled to get so far and the cost.

Equipment/Filtration
15g Glass Aquarium: $15 (waiting on Pet Supplies Plus DPG sale)
Nicrew 24" 14000K LED Marine Aquarium Light: $26
TopFin 40 gallon Adjustable Flow HOB: Already Have
Aquaneat 100W Heater: Already Have
10lbs of Aragonite Sand: $8
15lbs of Live Rock: $30

Livestock
Fish:

Coral:

Anemone:

I will update this list as soon as I decide on the livestock! The plan is a pair of clowns, but I have to decide which species.
 

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KimberlyG
  • #2
spying...
 

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Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
spying...
I'm tempted to go ahead and order the light. I have some PetCo Imagitarium white sand, but it isn't enough to cover the bottom of the tank. I think I'm going to spend $8 and get 10lbs of aragonite sand instead.
 
PoorBigBlue
  • #4
Definitely go with aragonite. Most sands intended for freshwater use (or, really any sand that isn't aragonite or crushed coral) has the capacity to cost algae issues. I'd go barebottom before I used freshwater sand.

With that light, I think you'll be limited to the less needy anemones. A 15 gallon "tentacle" tank would be really cool - do a variety of euphyllia corals (torches, hammers and frogspawn) along with a few duncans, and maybe do one BTA as a centerpiece for the clowns to host in, if they choose to do so. You'd have to space everything out, and you'd need to be VERY careful about spacing corals out, but it'd be a fun tank.

As for the species of clown, the only ones that I'd do in a 15 gallon are false percs, true percs, and maybe pink skunks. All of those will max around 4", and won't be too terribly aggressive towards their mate. The pink skunks tend to move around a bit more (or, they have when I've seen them in displays), but I think you could pull them off in a 15.

To be perfectly honest, my choice would be a pair of onyx true perculas. Beautiful fish.
 
Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
Definitely go with aragonite. Most sands intended for freshwater use (or, really any sand that isn't aragonite or crushed coral) has the capacity to cost algae issues. I'd go barebottom before I used freshwater sand.

With that light, I think you'll be limited to the less needy anemones. A 15 gallon "tentacle" tank would be really cool - do a variety of euphyllia corals (torches, hammers and frogspawn) along with a few duncans, and maybe do one BTA as a centerpiece for the clowns to host in, if they choose to do so. You'd have to space everything out, and you'd need to be VERY careful about spacing corals out, but it'd be a fun tank.

As for the species of clown, the only ones that I'd do in a 15 gallon are false percs, true percs, and maybe pink skunks. All of those will max around 4", and won't be too terribly aggressive towards their mate. The pink skunks tend to move around a bit more (or, they have when I've seen them in displays), but I think you could pull them off in a 15.

To be perfectly honest, my choice would be a pair of onyx true perculas. Beautiful fish.
I am going with Aragonite. I didn't really want a high light, I was wanting more of a moderate light. It's not like I don't have another tank with a light that is good for basically all types of coral and anemones that I may want, so a light that's a little more limiting is fine for this tank. I'm thinking BTA or Long Tentacle Anemone (if the Clowns will host it). I'll be getting either a different type of Ocellaris Clowns or some Perculas. I'm waiting to decide which before I update the original post. I'm going to order the light and the aragonite sand tomorrow morning.
 
PoorBigBlue
  • #6
I wouldn't do a LTA - they get huge, need a deep sandbed, and I'm not sure that light will be enough at the bottom of the tank.
 

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Jesterrace
  • #7
I personally wouldn't use a Nicrew light for any BTA (regardless of level of care). Fish Only is what I would use them for. The reviews on it unfortunately aren't much help as they appear to be all for freshwater tanks (which don't need anywhere near as much light). If you are dead set on it though it looks like the Condy would be your best shot at success for the tank size and level of care:
 
Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #8
I personally wouldn't use a Nicrew light for any BTA (regardless of level of care). Fish Only is what I would use them for. The reviews on it unfortunately aren't much help as they appear to be all for freshwater tanks (which don't need anywhere near as much light).
It's 16w (not really ideal for a lot of coral), but it's 14000K and has a good blue light wave as well as some violet.
 
PoorBigBlue
  • #9
The issue isn't the spectrum of light - it's the intensity. Watts mean very little with modern lighting, by the way - it's best not to use them as a reference when talking about intensity.

I thought that the light was a bit stronger than it was - but after doing some looking, that light won't support much more than a few softies. I get trying to go low-budget, but that light isn't going to cut it if you want to keep coral and anemones.
 
Jesterrace
  • #10
The issue isn't the spectrum of light - it's the intensity. Watts mean very little with modern lighting, by the way - it's best not to use them as a reference when talking about intensity.

I thought that the light was a bit stronger than it was - but after doing some looking, that light won't support much more than a few softies. I get trying to go low-budget, but that light isn't going to cut it if you want to keep coral and anemones.

I agree, one of the issues I have with the cheaper lights is that they simply look dim/dull by comparison to the somewhat higher end fixtures. Maybe a pair of these might work:
 

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Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #11
I agree, one of the issues I have with the cheaper lights is that they simply look dim/dull by comparison to the somewhat higher end fixtures. Maybe a pair of these might work:
I tagged you on my other thread to look at some other lights.
 
PoorBigBlue
  • #12
A pair of those would be moderate-high light, so that could work. The hardest part with the PAR 38's is getting them positioned right. They come with 60 degree optics, so you kinda have to position them about 1' above your tank to get a good spread. With 2 23W bulbs, I think 6" would give a nice even spread.

I can vouch for these bulbs. They aren't premium fixtures or anything, but they're solid, long-lasting (as long as you don't dip them into the tank like I did), and they're cheap.
 
Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #13
A pair of those would be moderate-high light, so that could work. The hardest part with the PAR 38's is getting them positioned right. They come with 60 degree optics, so you kinda have to position them about 1' above your tank to get a good spread. With 2 23W bulbs, I think 6" would give a nice even spread.

I can vouch for these bulbs. They aren't premium fixtures or anything, but they're solid, long-lasting (as long as you don't dip them into the tank like I did), and they're cheap.
I want to spend no more than $40 on the light. I posted a few options on my other thread and tagged you, would you mind to take a look? Also, what exactly is it that's wrong with the Nicrew?
 
PoorBigBlue
  • #14
I'll be honest - you're not going to get something that'll support coral and anemones for $40. Lights like that don't really exist, unless you get something used for super cheap.

The Nicrew doesn't put out enough light, plain and simple. Just like freshwater plants, corals and anemones need different intensities of light. The Nicrew that you linked simply doesn't put out enough light to support much other than some soft corals, and even then, I'd guess that they'd need up be placed in the upper 1/3 of the tank in order to get enough light - and still, they'd probably lose their color and turn brown. Growth would be negligible. It's kinda like trying to light a freshwater 40B with an incandescent light bulb - yeah, it'll light it up enough so that you can see your fish, but the majority of plants won't grow, except for maybe things like anacharis and hornwort. Same deal.
 

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Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #15
I'll be honest - you're not going to get something that'll support coral and anemones for $40. Lights like that don't really exist, unless you get something used for super cheap.

The Nicrew doesn't put out enough light, plain and simple. Just like freshwater plants, corals and anemones need different intensities of light. The Nicrew that you linked simply doesn't put out enough light to support much other than some soft corals, and even then, I'd guess that they'd need up be placed in the upper 1/3 of the tank in order to get enough light - and still, they'd probably lose their color and turn brown. Growth would be negligible. It's kinda like trying to light a freshwater 40B with an incandescent light bulb - yeah, it'll light it up enough so that you can see your fish, but the majority of plants won't grow, except for maybe things like anacharis and hornwort. Same deal.
I'm looking at this one
It's 10000K, 63w, 7560 lumen.
 
Jesterrace
  • #16
Quite simply the bulbs don't produce a bright enough light for the BTA or any corals beyond the easiest softies to grow. Unfortunately I can't show you, but if you could compare them side by side with your current T5 fixture, you would understand that these are just cheap LED strips. I hate to say it but that T5 fixture you paid just over $70 for is probably the best option for your added tank as then you know for sure the BTA is getting what it needs. If you were willing to sacrifice the BTA and Corals and just have a different pair of clowns in the 15 then the Nicrew would be fine as the fish don't really care what light you have.

I'm looking at this one
It's 10000K, 63w, 7560 lumen.

Seems reviews on it are a bit mixed, you could try it, but don't be surprised if it doesn't quite do it.
 
Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #17
Quite simply the bulbs don't produce a bright enough light for the BTA or any corals beyond the easiest softies to grow. Unfortunately I can't show you, but if you could compare them side by side with your current T5 fixture, you would understand that these are just cheap LED strips. I hate to say it but that T5 fixture you paid just over $70 for is probably the best option for your added tank as then you know for sure the BTA is getting what it needs. If you were willing to sacrifice the BTA and Corals and just have a different pair of clowns in the 15 then the Nicrew would be fine as the fish don't really care what light you have.
I completely see that, it looked bright in some pictures, but not so much in others. I found a light that should be really good for $38! It's 10000K, 63w, 7560 lumens.

It's in the same ballpark or even a bit worse than the Nicrew. Maybe you should look into used lights at your LFS or your local craigslist if you want to stick to that kind of budget.
Okay, so what is wrong with that one? The reviews says it is good for corals, and it's 63w
 
PoorBigBlue
  • #18
You can't really use pictures to judge how a light is going to perform - cameras will adjust to the lighting, just like our eyes will.

That light isn't going to do well, either. It's going to be of extremely low quality, probably won't last that long, and probably won't hold a candle to something you can find used. If you're serious about sticking to such a low budget, I'd look at getting a used fixture, or even just skipping the corals and anemones for this tank and going FOWLR.

If there were lights that worked well for $40, a lot more people would be into saltwater tanks. Sadly, that's not the case - even the ABI bulbs that I use are going to require a fixture to plug them into, plus multiple bulbs for a tank that's much more than 20".

A correction, to your last post - ONE of the reviews says it's good for corals, and that's on Amazon. The guy could've hooked it up for 5 minutes and been like "Wow, this is so much better than that old T8!" I can't find a reputable review of that light, and while I don't think a high cost is always associated with quality, I can almost guarantee you that you'll be disappointed with this light.
 

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Tony_097
  • #19
this is the chepest respectible reef light I know of
 
Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #20
What do you guys think of this T5 fixture if I put in 18000K lights?
 
Tony_097
  • #21
Reading the reviews people gave bad reviews because of the stock lights maybe be if you changed the bulbs it could to something like the coralife t5 it could work
 
Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #22
I'm going to go with the Oddysea T5HO. It's $37. I'm going to leave in the original bulbs for a bit just to see how they do, but I'll probably change them before long.
 

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JLeeM
  • #24
Okay, I myself know very little about saltwater stuff, and even less about corals and lighting. So, that being said, I'm looking forward to seeing where this thread goes. I want to learn! Lol.
 
Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #25
Okay, I myself know very little about saltwater stuff, and even less about corals and lighting. So, that being said, I'm looking forward to seeing where this thread goes. I want to learn! Lol.
Well, I learned s lot about LED lights last night! I’m gonna stick to my T5HO from now on.
 
Katie13
  • Thread Starter
  • #26
Okay, I should have a nice, big, heavy package arriving today or tomorrow! I’m going to take this tank nice and slow.
 

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