Shopping List - Newbie Help 

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Leann

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Hello from freshwater world, I’m excited to be moving (baby stepping) into the saltwater world. I am doing LOTS of research, including ordering a recommended book from fish lore, and I am by no means done.

I wanted to start an equipment need and wish list, because I can’t help but shop for things I need to start collecting supplies.

Need List:
Tank - I have a 56g corner bow

Sump - I have a 20 gallon tank I’d like to make a sump, or I wouldn’t turn down one I find for cheap

Sump Material - is a need and could be a thread on its own, I’ll worry about this a little later

Live rock - I’ve got two 5 gallon buckets of dried rock

Heater - need

Power heads - how many? What size? Not sure

Protein skimmer - a need for me from what I’ve read, will make life easier

RO system - need

Light - will have coral in my system, still doing research on what types of corals I’m going to gravitate towards

Anything serious I missed? Any advice on sizes of equipment for a 56g?


Wishlist:
Help me fill out a wish list! Things I could keep an eye out for someone selling
 

HarrisonAquatics

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Welcome to the salty side!

I'm going to give my opinions here, but just to be clear, there are a million ways to succeed in this hobby. No matter what someone tells you, if it works, it works - it's up to you to do your research to find out what you want to do.

For drilling a tank to create a sump, there are several Youtube videos about it. That said, I'd be extremely careful with your tank, as I'm not sure what kind of glass they'd use in a bowfront tank. I'd research and make sure that it isn't tempered, as tempered glass cannot be drilled. I don't run sumps on my tanks, and honestly, I don't think you need to. People have had amazing success with running sumpless tanks, with the sizing of those aquariums ranging from 0.5 gallons to several hundred. Sumps can make certain things easier, but for someone who's just getting into Saltwater, I might suggest you leave it out.

With Live Rock, just make sure you've got at least 35 lbs or so. That's the minimum I'd run a 50 gallon tank with - more would be better.

For heat, I like the Fluval series. You can buy some very expensive heaters (and controllers) if you want, but I've always found the Fluval heaters to be more than sufficient.

I think having anywhere between 25-50X per hour water turnover is going to be pretty important. I'd say a powerhead on each corner of the tank with a third pump (whether it's a return pump for your sump or a HOB filter) in the back of the tank would be what I'd do. I've had great luck with Koralia powerheads, although if you have a larger budget, Ecotech MP10's are always popular and very customizable.

I'd don't have much to offer in the way of skimmers, as I don't run them. I will say that from my limited experience with them, I'd recommend not skimping on one if you get one. Seems like they either work really well or not at all.

I use an RO Buddie filter. They're on the low end, but they're easy to install and maintain, and are more than adequate for your average hobbyist.

For lighting, I'd suggest you look into Black Box fixtures. They're Chinese-made LED fixtures that are light on customizations (no programming, limited control, no bluetooth, etc) but they work amazingly well, usually for a fraction of the price of a name brand fixture. If the bells and whistles are important to you, I get that, but this could be an amazing way to start keeping some coral. Most of the black box fixtures will support at least lower light SPS, if you size the light according to your tank.

Are you going barebottom or with a sandbed? I've gone barebottom on my last few tanks, and I love it. So much easier to clean, and you'd be shocked at how much easier it is to keep nitrates and phosphate down.
 

saltwater60

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If you’re doing a skimmer a sump makes it easier and much better options. I’m a fan of sumos as the increase your water volume and make the tank look much cleaner. You can put heaters in there and anything that hitchhikes on live rock or corals that might not be reef safe.

I like ehiem heaters.

As for lights the type of coral will really dictate this so settle that up first. I like led lights that are color controllable so you can get the color just how you want it. Plenty of options out there.
What fish do you want and what’s the tank dimension?

As for the RODI I’m a fan of the bulk reef supply ones. They are about 2.5 times the cost of the RO buddy but the filters last 2-3 times longer and there are many options if you get a standard 10” filter ro unit. The bulk reef supply RODI will save you money fairly quickly and produces more water.
 
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Leann

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Thank you both for your positivity and insight!

If you don’t do a sump do you just run a normal canister filter? I will not be drilling my tank, I was anticipating using hosing to run my sump to my tank, essentially like my canisters are on my freshwater setups.

I have two buckets of sand currently, bare bottom is not something I’ve considered to this point, I may have to look into this!

Tank dimensions are 40.25" L x 30"W x 54" H, I can double check that when I get home but found a similar tank online to judge off

As far as fish, I am a biologist at heart and symbiotic relationships are my jam. I’d love a watchman/shrimp combo, and maybe long term working up to an anemone/clown pair. Gobies and blennys are fun, I just saw a falco hawk fish at the store that stole my heart. If you have other symbiotic combos I’d love to hear. I wouldn’t mind “bigger” fish but my tank will not have lots of swimming room back and forth so it need to be more reef type fish I think.
 

saltwater60

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That’s a great plan for the fish.
I love shrimp goby pairs.
Look at Pom pom crabs and sponge crabs for other symbiotic pairs.
So the 54” height has to be with the stand. How about just the tank. Just curious for light penetration.

I’m not a fan of canister filters for salt water tanks. They are nitrate factories and a PIA.
If you don’t want to drill your tank look into an external overflow. I don’t blame you for not wanting to drill it. I always used overflow boxes.
 

HarrisonAquatics

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Agreed with above - canister filters are a bad idea on Saltwater tanks, unless you're in there basically every few days to clean off the media.

An external overflow wouldn't be a bad idea if you choose to go the sump route, although I'd research them pretty well before pulling the trigger. If you didn't want to sump the tank, you'd probably just end up using a couple of powerheads and probably a hang on back filter. Tanks run fine either way, although a sump would give you more wiggle room with water quality and more room for equipment. My personal preference is sumpless for now, though.
 

saltwater60

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HarrisonAquatics said:
Agreed with above - canister filters are a bad idea on Saltwater tanks, unless you're in there basically every few days to clean off the media.

An external overflow wouldn't be a bad idea if you choose to go the sump route, although I'd research them pretty well before pulling the trigger. If you didn't want to sump the tank, you'd probably just end up using a couple of powerheads and probably a hang on back filter. Tanks run fine either way, although a sump would give you more wiggle room with water quality and more room for equipment. My personal preference is sumpless for now, though.
Once you go sump you’ll never go back. They truly are better as you mentioned if you can swing one. Just easier and as mentioned usually maintain better water quality with less effort. Way better for skimmer options too.

As mentioned you can use an HOB or even go without and just use live rock and power heads for flow.
 
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