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Getting Started: Estabilished Used or New Nano


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I had plenty of successful fresh tanks as a kid but always wanted a reef tank. Living in NYC for the last 20 years and it's attendent moves and demands prevented it. Now, however, I live in Portland and have a daughter who is in love with Nemo which is giving me the opportunity to finally dive in.


We want to keep this to a resonable buget so it seems there are a couple of options and I'm curious about the opinions. First is to start small with a new 29g self contained nano tank for $3-400.


The other option would be to purchase a used tank. There are 5 or 6 tanks ranging in size from 55-75g that are all set up and running. They have fish, live rock, coral etc and are established and about the same price. The bigger tank would be more fun and probably more stable and easier once it was relocated and up and running and it would also be large enough to hold "Dory" too. You get more for your money this way but perhaps you're also buying someones headache.


Anyway, I'm curious as to the opinions. I have the help of my nephew who has a stunning 75g reef he's been taking care of for years with amazing success so I'm not going in blind and helpless. In fact I plan to lean heavily on him for the first months before he heads off to college.


Thanks for your advice.



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Hi Gregor,


It's always nice to get a new member and I am sure you will learn a lot from this forum just like I have.


My first tank was a 24 gallon nano. I got it nearly 7 years ago and still have it set up. I personally wouldn't buy a fully set up tank unless you know the person you are buying it from. You would also miss out on setting up the aquarium which is one of my favorite parts of the hobby.


Even though a 55 gallon has more volume and is more stable, my 24 gallon is easier to care for than my 55. It's also much cheaper to maintain than the 55 gallon. I don't mean to sound like the tang police, but a 55 or 75 gallon aquarium isn't a suitable long term home for a blue tang.


You have to decide what's important to you and if the extra size of the 55/75 is worth the extra work and money.


Make sure to ask as many questions as you can, we are more than willing to help.





Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk

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I agree with going as big as you can. Your water paramaters will be more stable due to it. I started with a small nano and it was great, but I soon outgrew it and I am now happy with my 60g cube. I also did freshwater for years before making the switch to salt, no looking back for me! When you get setup let me know and I can get some softies your way to get you started.

Much of what you get really boils down to how much you want to initially spend, and how much you want to spend in long term care for it also. It is obviously cheaper to dose a small tank than a large tank.

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I'll offer a contrary opinion. I have a 55g that is a blend of a fully-set up and semi-stocked tank from a friend, it was $300 for everything. I later learned about all the things that weren't done right...wrong sand (silicate), bad lighting (63watts T8), pretty bad stand, etc. I also got a 10g with rock, some corals and a goby/pistol pair...I got it free so it's hard to complain.


All told, I have fought with bad lighting that couldn't sustain frogspawn (it just withered), planaria (six-line took care of that one), and gobs of hair algae from the 10g that had too much nutrients from neglect (the donator warned me so I can't complain about him...especially for the non-price), but it has been a bit of a hassle. Starting with a clean 20-40 tank would be pretty good. keeping the tank height shorter means you could keep nemo and a girlfriend, a nem and a couple other things under a pair of T5's. You could go pick up the tank from petco right now for $20-40, lighting for probably $75-100 if you're patient (get it used), get a HOB skimmer or other HOB filter for $50 or so, some rock and sand, then the livestock. of course heater/powerhead, but you could probably do a 40breeder for pretty close to your budget.

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The one thing I didn't think about when I was first getting into things was the life of the tank. I bought a new 60 gallon cube when I first got started and after a few months I questioned my purchase because of the value of used tanks. After a while I realized it's really nice knowing that the silicone is good for a long time (no tank leaks), the glass is in mint condition, and that I know everything that has been in the tank.....


but, as you know, these are perks that you have to pay for :)

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So I got the tank - it was not quite in the perfect condition claimed but the seller and I agreed on $600 and, considering the fact that is has a new chiller and Iwata pump I think I did fine.


The tank came with about 50+ pounds of live rock and a few fish, none of which I cared for so I traded the fish to Travis at Upscales (super helpful) and took a credit for a pair of young clowns and some emerald crabs. The tank has two rose tipped anenomes and some soft coral.


The skimmer was clogged up with salt and I took that apart and cleaned it and it's working well. There's few dozen aiptasia but I'm working on keeping them in check with Aiptasia-X and so far it seems to help. Many of the rocks were covered with some thick turf algae and I got three emerald crabs which seem to be making slow progress. At my nephews suggestion I turned a lot of worst turf over so it doesn't get any light and that seems to help.


I also got some used Halides from Travis as I love the look of them and I'd like to be able to support hard coral at some point. I'm using them for about 6 hours a day right now. My anemones seemed content for a few days or perhaps were in shock from the move but now are wandering around the tank with one in back and the other still deciding if he likes his current spot.


My water is staying consistent and I'm testing it every other day right now. No amonia or nitrates, pH is 8.1, temp is steady at 77 and salt is 1.024. I picked up a blenny yesterday to help with a small algae bloom in the sand along with another power head to help with flow. I think now I'll let it coast with it's cleaning crew of snails, crabs, a sea slug, a hermit and the blenny and see how it does.


Thanks again for suggestions - I really like the tank.




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