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I have always enjoyed having fresh-water fish tanks in the past, and I have always wanted to tryout a saltwater tank. Unfortunately, I have never felt like it was a terrific time to start a saltwater tank due to financial commitment, time-commitments, etc. But I think the time is now. My wife has given me the go-ahead to purchase a tank (up to 55 gallons) for our basement. So now I'm trying to do all the homework I can before diving in over my head.

To this point I have tried to research the type of equipment I need, and I think I have compiled a decent list. I want to keep costs low, but I want to do it right.

Here is my list to this point:

55gallon tank with stand with closed cabinet.-craigslist
I have been casually looking for some tanks on craigslist at this point. We want to find tank in good condition (clean, with no cracks or chips) and we have been finding prices ranging from $50-$500. Really just trying to be patient and find something we like at the right price.

Liverock- I think I would order about 60 lbs of live from Tampa Bay saltwater. They sell it for $5/lb, which is the best price I have found yet... and people seem to like the product. I have been seeing some people have used a mixture of live rock and dry rock to seed the dry rock so it eventually becomes live rock. That certainly looks appealing financially, but how long until it performs well enough to act as a filter? Am i just better off going all live rock?

Livesand- Also ordering from Tampa Bay Saltwater. I figure 20lbs would be enough?

Skimmer- I am considering buying a Coralife Super Skimmer, but I honestly know little to nothing about skimmers, so any suggestions would be appreciated.

Salt- Instant Ocean Sea Salt Mix from marine depot.

Water: This is still up in the air. It seems like a lot of people purchase RODI systems for their tank. I have access to DI water at my place of employment, so I may just take some from there. But is having the RODI at home worth the investment?

Heater+ Powerhead: Saw both of these at Petco for 55gallon tanks. $30-50 for heater (depending on brand) and $20 for the powerhead.

Refractometer: seen a number of these available online ranging from $20-$100, any suggestions?

Testing kit: API Saltwater Master Test Kit seems to have everything I need for the testing. pH, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite.

So that's my list to this point. Anything I am forgetting. Oh yah Fish! I haven't fully determined what we want to put in fish wise. I will likely stick to easy beginner level fish. I just know we have a clownfish or 2 (I have a 2 year old that will love to have a Nemo) and likely a cleanup crew, but other than that I am open to suggestions that will be compatible with the clownfish.

So let me know if I am forgetting anything. I don't really know anyone with a saltwater tank, so I am finding it hard to bounce ideas off of people. Feedback greatly appreciated!
 

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Sea Stang
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Welcome to TRT! :wavey: No expert but will toss in a few thoughts.


I have always enjoyed having fresh-water fish tanks in the past, and I have always wanted to tryout a saltwater tank. Unfortunately, I have never felt like it was a terrific time to start a saltwater tank due to financial commitment, time-commitments, etc. But I think the time is now. My wife has given me the go-ahead to purchase a tank (up to 55 gallons) for our basement. So now I'm trying to do all the homework I can before diving in over my head.
I'd suggest spending the next 4-6 months researching before diving in too hard

To this point I have tried to research the type of equipment I need, and I think I have compiled a decent list. I want to keep costs low, but I want to do it right.
Low costs is a state of mind...this hobby is expensive though we can save a buck here or there usually by spending what is needed to do it right the first time

Here is my list to this point:

55gallon tank with stand with closed cabinet.-craigslist
I have been casually looking for some tanks on craigslist at this point. We want to find tank in good condition (clean, with no cracks or chips) and we have been finding prices ranging from $50-$500. Really just trying to be patient and find something we like at the right price.
I'd suggest looking at a 40 Breeder as it has a better footprint and allows easier cleaning and rock placement. 55 is narrow and hard to work with. I believe Petco and some Petsmart's are currently having a $1/gal sell which could give you a 40B for $40 and a 20L for a sump at $20.

Liverock- I think I would order about 60 lbs of live from Tampa Bay saltwater. They sell it for $5/lb, which is the best price I have found yet... and people seem to like the product. I have been seeing some people have used a mixture of live rock and dry rock to seed the dry rock so it eventually becomes live rock. That certainly looks appealing financially, but how long until it performs well enough to act as a filter? Am i just better off going all live rock?
Live rock will have hitch hikers, some may be awesome..but some may be horrid. I like taking the chance but for the $ would go with dry and play it safe. I started with dry and used the shrimp method to start cycle and was ready to go in about 4 weeks

Livesand- Also ordering from Tampa Bay Saltwater. I figure 20lbs would be enough?
Most here will say that live sand is not needed and a waste of $. Dry sand will become live in short order as the tank cycles.

Skimmer- I am considering buying a Coralife Super Skimmer, but I honestly know little to nothing about skimmers, so any suggestions would be appreciated.
This is where I wouldn't skimp. Can't speak on the corallife but do know you will want a skimmer that can handle roughly twice your tank water volume. A 40 with a 20 sump would likely have around 40 gal total given the rock displacement and the sump not fully filled. Reef Octopus is highly touted and I can say the one I have lives up to the hype. For a tank your size, I'd look for something like this http://www.ebay.com/itm/Reef-Octopu...mer-NWB-110-/111722962249?hash=item1a03351d49

Salt- Instant Ocean Sea Salt Mix from marine depot.
Just what you need only cheaper here esp if you do the 200g box http://www.petsolutions.com/C/Aquarium-Salt-Mixes/I/Instant-Ocean-Aquarium-Salt.aspx

Water: This is still up in the air. It seems like a lot of people purchase RODI systems for their tank. I have access to DI water at my place of employment, so I may just take some from there. But is having the RODI at home worth the investment?
Having control and knowledge of your own water is nice. At the least, I would invest in a decent TDS meter to test the work water. Something like http://www.ebay.com/itm/HM-Digital-...EE-SHIPPING-/252012491484?hash=item3aad1d72dc is ideal

Heater+ Powerhead: Saw both of these at Petco for 55gallon tanks. $30-50 for heater (depending on brand) and $20 for the powerhead.
You want 3-5w/gal for heating. For roughly 40g system I would suggest two heaters rated at or near 100-150w connected to a temp controller. Heaters are known for going bad and having two on a controller is just good insurance.

Refractometer: seen a number of these available online ranging from $20-$100, any suggestions?
Make sure it is ATC (automatic temperature compensation). I have http://www.ebay.com/itm/Salinity-Re...663?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5640c71657 which comes with calibration fluid.

Testing kit: API Saltwater Master Test Kit seems to have everything I need for the testing. pH, ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite.
That is the one I use. Many here rate Salifert as one of the top picks.

So that's my list to this point. Anything I am forgetting. Oh yah Fish! I haven't fully determined what we want to put in fish wise. I will likely stick to easy beginner level fish. I just know we have a clownfish or 2 (I have a 2 year old that will love to have a Nemo) and likely a cleanup crew, but other than that I am open to suggestions that will be compatible with the clownfish.

So let me know if I am forgetting anything. I don't really know anyone with a saltwater tank, so I am finding it hard to bounce ideas off of people. Feedback greatly appreciated!
 
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