SW Newbie - First tank size - Opinions please Question

Discussion in 'Saltwater Aquarium Setup' started by lorianne621, Jul 27, 2014.

  1. lorianne621Valued MemberMember

    I have been researching SW for a short while. I am still in the research stage and realize I have been kind of "all over the place" in my research and I am getting back to the basics.

    I am trying to decide the best tank size for my first tank. I have decided the first tank will be a FOWLR tank. I will probably expand that tank to a REEF tank down the road as I get comfortable with maintaining a SW system.

    Here are some of the things I am considering as I think about the tank.

    1.) I want to go big enough that I don't make it harder on myself as a beginner in SW. So water volume is an issue. I know, bigger is better.
    2.) I am not very tall, at 5' 2" working in my 30 gallon hex tank is sometimes a chore. I stand on a stool but reaching the bottom to place delicate plants that I can't get seated well with my tongs... I feel like I need longer arms. It is 25" deep... I would not want to have to work in a tank any deeper than this and I really would rather not work in one this deep. So when I see the big huge tanks... they are so deep that I think working in them would be a pain. I wonder if it wouldn't be easier to keep 2 X 75 gallon tanks than to keep 1 X 150 gallon tank.(of course, these are future plans) Any opinion on this would be awesome to hear.
    3.) I also already have a 55 gallon tank that could be converted to SW... but I think I would rather just shop around and find something a little wider from front to back... like a 75 gallon.
    4.) My other thought was start with something not quite so big... like a 40 gallon breeder and add a 20 gallon refugium to it for volume. Do any of you think this would be big enough for a beginner starter tank?

    I really do think I could get a bigger tank on Craigslist. Problem with a lot of the ads I find on CL is that they either want to sell a very old tank that I am not sure is still watertight. OR... they want to sell a complete setup right down to the livestock... I want to do most of this myself. LOL

    I guess maybe I should be grateful that there are complete setups out there for great prices... but a huge part of the fun and satisfaction for me is the learning process and doing it myself even if it does cost me a little more in the long run.

    So what are your thoughts on tank size? What is the ideal size for a beginner?
  2. 1971roadrunnerWell Known MemberMember

    Well now, a wannabe salty-nice! I hope your prepared to drive yourself pleasantly CRAZY for some time to come :).Anyhoots the only suggestion I can (for infrastructure) make and defend is to recommend what I've done myself and have never regretted. I started with a 55g tank, simple sump system and a quality in-sump protein skimmer and let that run w/o anything in it till it ran right enough to make adjustments later. I like proflex model sumps for beginners on many levels including price and ease of setting up etc...Try taking a look at them. Look into how these systems operate and ask further ?'s from there. These I feel are the basics of running SW systems and once you get this down you can move forward much easier. You can start out with a more basic system but why not get this down from the start. ttyl

    *oh yeah, you'll need an overflow box kit to get the water out of the tank and into the sump and a return pump to put it back in too. later.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  3. SlugWell Known MemberMember

    If really decided on FOWLR I would look at some SW fish you would live to have and then build the setup around that. After all, the fish will be the stars in a FOWLR. Where as a reef is built more to the size you want since coral doesn't really have much of a size requirement, coral is the star and you fit in fish where you can.

    Just what I would do to start. Then once you figure out what type of fish you are gearing towards you can find a tank size, then gear your equipment and sump to that.
  4. lorianne621Valued MemberMember

    Well, the more I research, the more I want a REEF tank but I hate to plunge into something over my head. However I am much more interested in the Corals and the Inverts than the fish. My husbands loves Tangs and I admit I think they are lovely. :D But then I like most anything that lives underwater... :party0004:

    If I really thought that I wasn't rushing things I would like to start with a medium size REEF tank. I guess I was thinking FOWLR because it seems like the responsible thing to do... but I never really asked here, and I should have so I will add that to my question too now that it has been brought up. :confused:

    This tank is obviously weeks away and I have more research to do but I keep looking through CL and now that I am getting feedback I keep looking at that 55 gallon I already have. I did look at the Pro Flex Sumps and they get good reviews. There was a really good extensive youtube review on the model 4 Pro Flex by newyorksteelo too that gave me some good info too. So thanks for the input.

    I would still like to hear more ideas if anyone has them.
  5. SlugWell Known MemberMember

    To be honest, the way I see it these days all a reef is compared to a FOWLR tank is a tank with fancy lights on top and coral in it. You still use your sump, your skimmer, your powerheads, do all of the same husbandry, etc. You might add in stuff like dosing but thats really not that bad and only if needed. So even after you setup as a FOWLR, it can easily morph into a reef (depending on fish choices) with a lighting upgrade, unless you already have the lights.

    There are many people that keep tangs in their reef tanks and many that are reef safe, best of both worlds. The tangs are beautiful fish. They are all about swimming room, the more the better. Its easier to fit tangs in with a more open aquascape and longer tank. If it were me I'd be looking at a 120/125gal+ size tank for this though I do know some that keep some of the smaller species in 75-80gal 4ft tanks. Tangs are built for swimming so just be aware.

    I personally jumped straight into reefs when I entered SW because its what I was interested in. Now I can't get enough!! If you are buying brand new everything its going to be expensive. If you buy second hand or find deals on CL/local clubs and get a nice used reef ready tank (built in overflows), sump, etc like a full setup then you can put that money saved into lights for the coral, which is a whole other decision. To me I couldn't see having a SW tank without coral. And I don't feel like its really any more of a burden, perhaps I'm lucky or just enjoy it so much I don't notice. My corals are like any plants, set it and forget it after I find where it likes to be in the tank. They grow and grow and grow, all I'm doing is keeping my tank stable like I would with a FOWLR setup.
  6. lorianne621Valued MemberMember

    I guess that is probably what I am more suited to. I know that on the FW side of things I would never consider a tank that is not a planted tank. I love watching things grow. I love seeing all the different kings of plant life I can work with.

    I think a Reef would just open a whole new world of possibilities for me. So many people told me to FOWLR to start that I guess I felt like it was the responsible way to start but I think I will research more into starting a Reef tank... I just need to decide on size now... LOL

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