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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all! New here and wanting advice. I currently have a 20 gallon freshwater tank setup with an almost 10" plec (he has quickly outgrown both a 10 gallon and now 20 gallon tank...lol), 5 neon tetras and one powder blue dwarf gourami. I have a 125 gallon tank (6' long, 22" tall, 18" wide) that has been unused and in storage for approximately 10 years that I want to put back into use. I have 2 - Magnum 350 filters with one bio-wheel for filtration and a heater.

The problem I have is that I want a saltwater tank, but husband says NO WAY - too much money, too much hassle...SOOOOO...I am looking to make it LOOK like a reef aquarium in freshwater. Any ideas, suggestions? I don't mind putting in work, just have to go easy on the budget!
 

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Welcome to TRT!!!!!!!!

A few people do reefing as "inexpensive" as I have done over the years....

If you want to do a reef, lets talk about it a little and go over the costs and budget before we give it a solid NO GO.

If we have to compromise we can get you going with a brackish setup, and have a few more options, and get closer to a saltwater type setup...

I'm guessing we have a no to very low budget, how low are we talking for setup, $50, $100, $10?

if you want to go reef, your biggest cost will be the initial salt to fill it up, talking $39-50 ish to get it a "saltwater" tank, you can use the heater you have (need to at least hit 73-74'F, 78-80'F is preferred), you can use the filters you have (remove the guts, just run them for water flow, we use the "Berlin filtration" method), lastly you will need lights. It is possible to get away with some cheap T12 shop lights with daylight bulbs (for some soft corals, and posible LPS), but if you can find something used local like used metal halide lights/T5HO lights, thats what you want.

Let me show you this tank I just got going...

Tank - $60
Black Silicone to rebuild it - $12
black paint - $1
PVC pipe - Left over parts
PVC glue - Silicone left over (reef safe)
Light fixture - Free yard sale
Rock - Free from a fellow reefer that moved away
heater - $30
Powerheads - Free yard sale



Skimmer - Free yardsale
Sump (left) - Free side of the road
Sump (right) - Free Yard sale
Return pump - Free Yard sale
Heaters - $40 (some free some used from the fish store)
all other pumps, reactors, and such were also free



Basically I built this whole system for no cost, it has taken about 3 years to collect a lot of these parts, but they are out there and you just have to look for them.

the only money really spent was on the heaters, if those go out (and they did recently) it will cost you a lot. Some things you just can't go cheap on, and heaters are one of those things ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you

Hi and thank you for your response. While I appreciate all the effort you put into your reply, I have decided that it will be too much work to set one of these up by myself as I have no plumbing skills, have no way to "cut" holes in the tank (and frankly would be afraid I would mess something up if I tried...lol) and don't want to ask husband to do it since he is uninterested in the hobby and works quite a bit.

What I would really like is to learn how to build/assemble an artificial reef that would appear lifelike with movement, etc. I was thinking there might be some sort of artificial rock I could make/buy and then buy rubber anemones, coral, etc. and attach with silicone to the rock formation. That way when the water moved, it would make the plants move and appear lifelike. I am ok with the freshwater tropical fish - there are way more tropical, colorful freshwater fish than I ever thought before - now that I have been researching so much on it.

Any thoughts? Anyone? Thanks.
 

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Your welcome!

There are lots of silicone critters and things available out there.

first place I would start would be going to a local fish store, and Buy some dry reef rock, it usually runs about $1.50-$1.99lb around here. good thing is you don't have to buy all the rock at once, just buy one or two rocks at a time and over a few months you can have enough. there are a lot of 1-2lb or rock per gallon and other rules, but those are made in my opinion by the people trying to sell more rock, you only need what looks good to you.

there are also resin casts of corals you can add, while the painted ones can look "good" the paint will come off after a short period of time and they will look bad, so just get the white ones, or the ones that they used a colored resin so the color will always be the same.


This is a picture of my first salt water tank, it was a 29g tank kit from petco. nothing special, even used an under gravel filter on it.

Now just as a note, I listened to a guy at the fish store and he sold me corals and an anemone that I was not setup to care for, but said I was, and I eventually killed the nem and LPS corals. :(







You don't need any plumbing, or fancy things to have a marine aquarium, all you need are: water, salt, good flow (powerhead/pump), some reef rock, heater, temp gauge, and a way to measure the salt level. If you want to add corals, add a good light to the list and your golden.

drilling, plumbing, and other "fancy" stuff is not required at all.

not mine but an example of how "advanced" a tank has to be to have corals...
plastic bin from wallmart, powerhead, heater, and saltwater... ;)
 
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