New 20 Gallon Saltwater Tank Set Up

Discussion in 'Saltwater Beginners' started by kait31, Aug 13, 2015.

  1. kait31New MemberMember

    I am looking for some guidance as to where I should begin in regards to setting up a 20 gallon salt water tank. I have been doing plenty of research and seems that there are so many different options that my head is spinning and i don't even know where to begin.

    For one I am not sure if starting with a FOWLR tank is best or if I should start with a reef tank. All I am looking to have is two clownfish.

    Next I have the following set up:

    Black trim glass aquarium
    Hood with LED lights
    Top Fin power filter with cartridge
    Adjustable 100Watt heater (ideal for tropical fish)
    4 inch nylon net


    Water test vial

    This came as a starter kit, i am not sure if this is ok or if I should by a tank and accessories all separate.

    If someone could provide some support/guidance that would be great.

  2. AquaticBrandonWell Known MemberMember

    Welcome to Fishlore !
    I would say it's better to start off with a FOWLR tank and when you know the basics and stuff you can later move on to a reef tank. A reef tank is more expensive because of corals, good lighting and stuff. So for a 20 gallon tank you will need about 20 pounds of live rock or dry rock. I would say start off with dry rock, you can get reef saver rock from BulkReefSupply. Live rock sometimes has pests so starting with dry rock you don't really have to worry about that. I don't know if you know this already, but you can't use Tap water in SW tanks. You will have algae issues and stuff. It's best to use RO water or RODI water. Preferably RODI Water, you can get an RODI unit from bulk reef supply which runs about $150 or so. It should help a lot and save you money in the long run. You can also use RO water from your grocery store, that's what I use for my reef tank. I would recommend getting a better filter. The top fin filters aren't really that good, I would recommend getting an aqua clear filter for some chemical or mechanical filtration, your live rock is your main filtration but running carbon or some Purigen in your filter won't hurt. Also, flow in SW tanks is best. I would get some powerheads , I have a hydor koralia powerhead and it works very well. I would run 2 240 hydor koralia's. Since you are doing a FOWLR tank, you won't really need that much flow as you would with a reef tank. I also forgot to say that for a tank this size, you won't need a protein skimmer. As long as you keep up with your water changes you should be good, although they do help.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum

  3. kait31New MemberMember

    Ok great

    Is there a certain model of Aqua Clear Filter that I should be using? Also how about the LED lights that come with the tank as well as the heater?

    I am just thinking if I am going to have to replace most of what comes with my started tank then I should return it and buy everything separately.

    Let me know what you think

  4. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    Don't get a HOB filter at all unless you need to run chemical filtration such as carbon. They can really become nitrate factories if they aren't maintained very consistently.

    Your live rock will provide you all the bio-filtration you'll need.

    The lights will be fine, but probably doesn't have actinic bulbs that really make saltwater tanks stand out, so if you're looking to upgrade the lights to really look nice you may want to look elsewhere.

    As for the heater... Maybe it'll be fine but I generally don't trust the heaters that come in kits. Check out the Aqueon Pro heaters, they are really good heaters at a good cost. In your case with a 20 gallon tank, you would want a 100w heater.
  5. AquaticBrandonWell Known MemberMember

    I would run an aquaclear 50. The lights should work since it's going to be a FOWLR tank and not reef, you don't need any special lighting. But I'm guessing this light is made for freshwater tanks? So you can get a light that isn't that expensive and is made for SW tanks. What kind of heater is it?

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  6. kait31New MemberMember

    The tank states that it is for both Freshwater and Saltwater. All i know about the heater is that it is an adjustable 100w heater.

    Sounds like I should possibly return the kit and buy things separate to make sure I am getting quality parts.

    Also how about a protein skimmer, i have read a lot about them , some people advise to use them and some not. Is that something I would need?
  7. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    I would return the kit and buy parts separately.

    I'm still standing by what I said to leave the filter out though, they can cause real nitrate problems if you don't maintain it every week. There's also no reason to run one besides a cheap source of carbon.

    As for protein skimmers, they are highly recommended but not necessarily needed in your size tank. They are especially useful for nutrient export and oxygenating the water. Ideally you'd have a skimmer running to help you keep the nitrates <10ppm.
  8. kait31New MemberMember

    So if I return the tank i currently have, should I maybe look at getting a bigger tank? I have a stand that hold up to a 36 and I've read starting out a bit bigger is easier.

    With that being said starting from scratch with just a tank ( No Starter Kit) which products would you suggest getting , heater wise, light wise, etc.

    I would rather do it correctly from the beginning rather then running intro problems
  9. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    If you are going to go FOWLR, I find the Finnex FugeRay Marine+ LEDs have a pretty color spectrum.
    As previously suggested I would do an Aqueon Pro 100w heater. As for skimmers I've seen the Tunze DOC 9004 suggested as an in-tank skimmer being a pretty decent option.

    Just as a suggestion you could also look into BRS pukani rock or reef saver rock if you would like to set up the tank with minimal pests from live rock. You could get 17-18lb of pukani or reef saver rock and 1-2 pieces of normal live rock from your LFS to seed the dry rock.
  10. kait31New MemberMember

    and still stick with the 2 240 hydor koralia's as suggested by aquaticbrandon
  11. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    I would do a 240 and a 425. It'll make the transition to a reef later much easier, and there's nothing wrong with having a bit of extra flow. My 29G tank has a 600 a 425 a 240 and 2 HOB filters (Empty) that I use for extra water flow.

    The added flow will help keep food and detritus suspended in the water column so the skimmer can pick up any leftovers.
  12. AquaticBrandonWell Known MemberMember

    Yeah just go with the 240 and 425 if you're going to switch later on to a reef.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  13. kait31New MemberMember

    Is there anything else that is needed for me to get started?
  14. AquaticBrandonWell Known MemberMember

    Are you going to go with the 20 gallon or a 36? Also, don't go with a deep sand bed. They can cause problems if disturbed.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  15. kait31New MemberMember

    I was thinking maybe going a bit bigger then the 20 gallon if i am having to return it anyways , maybe a 30 gallon. would that change what i need for the tank?

    How much sand is suggested for the sand bed?
  16. AquaticBrandonWell Known MemberMember

    Good choice. Well if you're going with the 30 gallon, then I would do 2 koralia 425's or like a 600 and a 425. In my reef I have like 1-2 inches of sand.

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  17. kait31New MemberMember

    ok great, and how long should i cycle the tank for?
  18. AquaticBrandonWell Known MemberMember

    You can cycle your tank with Dr Tims One And Only. But I don't have experience with that product so LH can help you more with that

    Sent from my iPhone using Fish Lore Aquarium Fish Forum
  19. kait31New MemberMember

    I returned by 20 gallon tank and bought a 36 gallon Aqueon bow front kit instead, does this change what i will need in regards to powerheads etc?
  20. LiterallyHydroWell Known MemberMember

    You're going to want additional flow and a larger heater. You're also going to want more rock and a light fixture of the proper length for the tank.

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