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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all. This is my first post after having just started into the world of saltwater, so bear with me.

I currently have a 12g JBJ nano-cube w/ a non-powered skimmer in the back. I put in ~12# of live rock and sand about 6 weeks ago and it seems to have cycled. I'm enjoying watching the little bit of visible life it has right now since every day I see something new. I'm proceeding cautiously after having learned lessons the hard way too many times w/ freshwater tanks.

Here's the thing... I don't believe the nano-cube is the right setup. I'd like to change to a ~15-20g custom rimless tank w/ overflow box above and a refugium/sump below that would house the skimmer and pump. Does this make sense? I have a 75g Oceanic reef-ready sitting here for a few years now because I just really don't want to go that big.

I can use any advice on setup, using a refugium/sump combo, plumbing or anything really.

My ideal is to have a small tank, no more than say 20g, that would have the live rock, corals, snails, shimp, crabs (etc.) and 2-3 nano-suitable fish. I really want a clown to be one of those.

I look forward to everyone's advice.

Dan
 

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My own ocean
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Welcome to TRT!

I think your setup is fine with the 12g, I don't quite understand when you say you don't believe its the right setup? I would encourage you to go with the 75 gallon. It will be much easier to maintain, although the cost will go up for equipment etc... And you could use your 12g as a sump. Just an idea.
 

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A nano-cube has its uses, but is limiting to the aquarist. So, the nano-cube is the right tank, for the things it is designed to do. If you plan on expanding (and trust me you will) then getting something larger is a good idea. You can still keep the smaller tank around as a species tank, or a quarantine tank. But if you think it isn't the right set up for you, then it probably isn't.
 

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r e e f e r 4 l i f e
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I've got a 20 gallon long reef with a 10 gallon sump. If I had a 75 reef ready already lying around I would TOTALLY use that. What is your reason for not wanting to go that big?

If you are looking for a 20 gallon reef however, I'd totally recommend a 20 Long. 12" high, 12" front-to-back, and 30" long. It gives you a much wider footprint to work with (creating the illusion of a bigger tank than you actually have). You can get a rimless one and accomplish the look you want. Tell us more about your plans. Do you have a good location picked out. Type of stand? The stand will determine a lot of how your sump/fuge will be set up as you need to plan for plumbing and everything. Good luck with your build and welcome to TRT!
 

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Keeping water parameters stable will be difficult with only 12 gallons. Adding a sump or refugium will make life easier. I'm not aware of any rule that says a sump can't be bigger than the display tank.
12 gallons would limit you to a couple very small fish, or one moderate sized fish., but you could put in mushrooms or other "easy" corals.
 

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It's actually easier to maintain a bigger tank since water chemistry is not that easily disturbed therefore less worries and you can keep more beautiful animals in it. Will cost more though. Gudluck! = )
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Cost is not so much the issue as liking smaller. I've had plenty of freshwater tanks over the years ranging from 5-50 gallons. I've thought about having the larger water volume to help keep the system stabilized, however with great volume comes greater volume of water changes each week.

The way I figure it, a 15ga tank + 15ga refugium/sump (w/ no bio load in it) actually gives me 30 ga to work with. If I add in Miracle Mud, some forms of algae and maybe some mangroves I could help filter/stabilize the tank correct?

I'm thinking of a simple, "open box" design of stand where the refugium would be showcased on the bottom as much as the top main tank.

My gripe about the JBJ is that it's not really 12ga even. Add to this, the sand and rock take up even more volume and I'd be surprised if it even held 8ga of water.

I'm thinking less is more. I know the temptation to go bigger since I've been there many times... however I think I finally appreciate how a reef tank is a biotope and cannot be overloaded. Some day when I have a bigger place I might want to do a larger system, but I've never been a fan of big fish. I've always had dwarf cichlids... my current tank is ~10ga Tanganyika tank.

I'm thinking more about the 75ga. I'm just thinking lugging all that water around each week, the cost of live rock and all to fill it and space doesn't seem it will add more to my satisfaction.
 

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I've never been a fan of big fish.
Amen! My 29 gallon planted tank had all micro fish in it, ember tetras, celestial pearl danios, etc. I am the same with my reef tanks. My favorite fish, which I mention over and over in posts, is the yellow clown goby. Totally reef safe, tiny fish, that has a great personality and bright yellow color!

Small is very fun, pleasing to watch, and a challenge, but it is limiting. For most aquarists it's this last one that causes them to upgrade to a larger tank.

I have to say, when I had my 5.5 gallon (no fuge, no nothing, just 5.5 gallons) that was the one tank I sat and stared at most of all.

As you build it, post photos for us...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ok, one quick question before calling it a night. There are so many options around lighting. If customizing, do I need to worry about length in order to accomodate standard fixtures or do most people do another option such as hanging lights? I should add, I want the exterior of this (i.e. stand, plumbing, cords) to be as aestetically pleasing as the interior. Thanks again for your input.
 

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Having done a small tank, I would recommend hanging lights, if for no other reason than it's easier to control heat issues that arise around lighting. Mine had a regular fixture and I had to add a fan, and worry about heat in that small amount of water. With a hanging light there is greater space between the tank and light, and greater natural air flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So nearly 6 months later and I still don't have a new tank set up. In part I'm pondering a job change, which could change my financial situation some, but that's beside the point...

I'm debating about a custom tank and thinking of a few options. One would be to have the whole thing done by a local shop, though the estimates seem a bit too steep.

The other options would be to ask a shop to modify pre-build rimless tanks into an over-flow tank and a refugium.

I've also considered finishing the refugium myself since it would just be adding a few panels of glass. It would just be finding the right seal. I've also wondered about just having someone drill the hole for the over-flow tank and building the walls myself.

Thoughts?
 

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life is BeAuTiFuL! <3
New 16g BioCube Gen 3, April 2021... back at the habit!
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A nano-cube has its uses, but is limiting to the aquarist. So, the nano-cube is the right tank, for the things it is designed to do. If you plan on expanding (and trust me you will) then getting something larger is a good idea. You can still keep the smaller tank around as a species tank, or a quarantine tank. But if you think it isn't the right set up for you, then it probably isn't.
I agree... we're in the process of trying to sell our house so our 55 gallon tank is still unassembled and in the garage, but our eventual goal is to keep the 12 gallon nano as a frag/quarantine tank (i.e. to let coral frags attach to small pieces of rock, if a fish is being a bully or becomes ill, etc) and use the 55 gallon as our "show" tank. But nanos are great learning experiences, especially to start out with!
 
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