New To Saltwater! What Size Tank Should I Get?

Discussion in 'Saltwater Aquarium Builds' started by SomeoneFISHy, Nov 24, 2018.

  1. SomeoneFISHyValued MemberMember

    Hello! It's Mat again. I'm going to start a saltwater tank soon, and I'm curious of what size tank I should get. I'm not planning to get a giant tank, but I've also heard that smaller tanks are harder to manage, b/c of the unstable water parameters. I'm new to saltwater, so I'm not sure what to get. Thanks!

  2. DutchAquariumWell Known MemberMember

    30 gallons is a good size that you can make some mistakes on, but it's not overly big. Saltwater isn't necesarily hard, just different.
  3. SomeoneFISHyValued MemberMember

    Thanks! I'll look into it. Any size references?
  4. david1978Fishlore LegendMember

    What you plan to put in the tank would help decide on tank measurements. If you want a lot of corals and things like that a frag tank may be a good option. Fish only it doesn't matter as much as the depth for lighting is taken away but swimming space still needs to be considered.
  5. PoorBigBlueValued MemberMember

    Well, you want a tank that's big enough to allow for a bit of error, and small enough to not be overwhelming. I'd personally recommend a 20 long, since that'll allow you to keep a few fish, and allow enough dilution to not be a hassle.
  6. JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

    Honestly it all depends on what you want to do or are willing to do. I recommend spending some time taking a look around


    They aren't 100%, but I would say they are right 90-95% of the time and it will give you the info on recommended minimum tank sizes, temperament of the fish, whether or not it is reef safe (eats corals, inverts), and the care level that a given fish requires. I will say this, all tank sizes have their advantages and disadvantages and the extreme ends of the spectrum are a trade off between difficult to maintain water parameters (ie 10 gallon or smaller) to excessive tank and equipment maintenance and start up costs (ie 125 gallon or larger).

    For this reason many recommend something in the 20 Long to 75 gallon range as a good starter tank.

    Advantages of the smaller end of that spectrum:

    Less Equipment to buy
    Much lower start up cost
    Less time spent cleaning tank and equipment


    Water Fluctuates more frequently in the smaller end (ie Salinity due to water evaporation, nitrates build up faster, easier to accidentally over feed)
    More likely to experience territorial aggression with the smaller tank/space
    Fewer Stocking options for fish

    For the larger end of the spectrum mentioned the advantages and disadvantages Flip Flop. At around the 55 gallon mark it reaches the point where you have to trade in HOB equipment for a sump configuration. A sump is a smaller tank that sits below the main tank and is used for additional water flow and equipment like a Protein Skimmer (Removes excess protein waste from the water) and a return pump (sends the water back up to the main display tank). The main display tank is either pre-drilled with an overflow in built in to the main display tank (best method) or has an overflow box that hangs on the main tank and siphons water in and out into the sump (more problematic because the siphon system is very prone to clogging).
  7. platy21Well Known MemberMember

    I just started my first saltwater tank last week- its challenging but already rewarding! When I was researching optimal tank sizes and setups everyone warned about evaporation. Truthfully I didn't think it would be that bad, but now that my tank is set up I can vouch how fast it happens. The smaller the tank the quicker water will evaporate and impact salinity, so I would recommend something upwards of 20 gallons.
  8. McRibValued MemberMember

    It largely depends on your budget. There are some great sized All in one tanks that can ease you into the setup portion of a SW tank, but come at a fairly large expense.

    It also largely depends on what you’re comfortable with. Some people want a very easy set up, others are willing to do a lot more DIY type work getting their tank set up.

    So without knowing some of these answers it’s kind of hard to answer the question.

    For instance, I’m in the middle of setting up my first tank. I went with @100 gallons, but I plumbed it myself, installed a 90 gallon sump in my garage (which was plumbed through the wall), installed an ro/di unit, set up a mixing station, etc... The cost adds up, and so do the projects, but I was prepared and chose that way for starting up. Obviously that’s not the route for everyone though and can be a little intimidating at times.
  9. ViralologyValued MemberMember

    I agree with what everyone has said, the only thing else I could recommend is an Auto Top Off system. As water evaporates the salt doesn't. It's fairly inexpensive if you DIY it.
  10. rugerjrNew MemberMember

    I’d get a ten gallon to start. Just to save some coin with smaller equipment that is available for them these days. You’ll save so much being able to go with a smaller light and skimmer. Let alone the amount of liverock and sand is a lot less. Go with a smaller tank and get quality equipment. Especially light and skimmer. I’d go with the reef octopus hob skimmer on BRS or even on eBay and Amazon. Get the 18”-24” Current USA light with the control for $94. The technology and equipment has come a very long way in the past 5 years. You can get a ten gallon tank and use the savings to get quality equipment and have a more stable tank than the 125s In a lot of cases. Jebao has cheap dc controllable powerheads. You save so much on smaller quantity of salt needed for weekly water changes. Or you could carbon dose with the appropriate bacteria’s to keep the nitrate and phosphate down and get a Jebao doser to dose the chemicals if you want to do hard corals. The only complaint you may have with the smaller tank is the limits on the types of fish options you have. Certain fish need more room to swim.

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