Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources

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Shawn 11-01-2006 10:14 AM

What size tank is best?
I am wanting to start up a new reef aquarium and I'm unsure what size tank to use. I have read in books and things that you should not go 40 gallons or under when you are just starting out. After going to look at aquariums, I decided I liked the 75 gallon tank. I am a little confused thought because I am seeing quite a few people on here using bigger tanks, even though they are just starting out. Is the difference just more money in the beginning, or is there more to it? Just so you know, this project is not happening tomorrow. I am seeing more and more things that need to be thought out and considered, and I really want to make sure I do what is supposed to be done. All opinions would really help. Thanks.

JouteiMike 11-01-2006 10:41 AM

The idea is simply, the bigger the tank, the easier it is to maintain. Everything is diluted into a larger quantity of water, so it maintains its stability and it not prone to sudden changes. In smaller tanks the water chemistry can be easily affected. The amount of money you want to spend it up to you, but I think 75 gallon is a nice area to begin.

Is this going to be your first tank? Freshwater might be a better start, unless your confident and understand all the efforts that go into saltwater.

Shawn 11-01-2006 10:47 AM

I have had freshwater tanks in the past. Though it was several years ago, I think I have a pretty good "base knowledge" (for lack of a better term) of aquariums. I am finding out this is an expensive hobby, but from what I have read and can tell, VERY worth it. Also, can I get opinions on buying used equipment? How do you know what's good or not?

usmc121581 11-01-2006 03:30 PM

Go with the biggest you can afford, I made the mistake of starting up with a 29gal then moved to a 46gal, then moved to a 72gal, then just recently went to a 120gal. So what I'm tring to say, its easier to go with the biggest you can afford because you might like it and want a bigger tank and it will save money buy getting the biggest first. This is just my take on it, I think saltwater is easier then freshwater.

bettababy 11-01-2006 04:27 PM

Wow, where to begin... all good advice so far. The bigger the tank, yes, the easier to maintain, but also the more options for animals. Something else to consider is the size and spacing of saltwater animals. This is VERY different than freshwater. You won't fit as many animals into a saltwater environment as you will in freshwater, so getting a feel for the animals that appeal to you, THEN decideing on the tank size, will help a lot. Think about the triggerfishes... most of which will exceed 12 - 14 inches full grown and which grow quickly... waste levels are usually an issue due to space and feeding habits. Even domino damsels get 4 - 5 inches in diameter, while something like an ocellaris clown will top out at 4 - 5 inches, vs the tomato clown which can get 5 - 7 inches. Aggressive behavior is something else to consider, more aggressive fish need fewer fish in the tank, but much more space for territory, even if they are smaller. Even the clownfishes vary in aggressiveness.
The larger the tank, the more options available...
I have found saltwater to be less work than freshwater, but it requires a deeper understanding of the environment you are keeping. There are more water tests to do regularly in saltwater, but water exchanges can be a lot less, especially if the right equipment is there and it's set up properly from the start. There are sumps, canister filters, refugiums, IV sterilizers, and many other options for keeping saltwater, and they can be mixed/matched according to what you're keeping.
I always advise finding the fish you desire to keep FIRST, then consider what those fish will need, and work from there. It can be cheaper to start a 3 inche trigger in a 220 gallon tank and let it grow into the tank rather than starting with 55 gallons and stepping up in tank size every year.
There is one other issue I haven't seen mentioned, but I feel important to mention... size of the tank vs ease of having to do maintenance. The larger tanks are easiser to scrape and work in, but some may require a ladder for you to reach all the way into it. The stand on a larger tank allows more access for sump or other filtration options, and the use of skimmers and other equipment. Odd shaped tanks can be trickier to work in, and more diffucult to work with something like a sump.
Take your time, ask a lot of questions, take a lot of measurements, and have fun with it... this is a great hobby when you understand it!

Shawn 11-01-2006 04:56 PM

Great information! Thanks so much. As far as what kind of fish...hmm. There are quite a few variables that go into it, so I'm finding out. From what I have read and heard from others, I'm thinking I don't want a very aggressive tank. I would like to have as many fish (of same and different species) as possible and so I wonder, does the aggressiveness of the fish also dictate how many you can have, along with the size of the tank? When it comes to equipment, I have actually gotten some conflicting information already about whether or not to have different filtration systems and such. How in the world do you all know what is the best systems and which ones work just as well for a fraction of the money. I am so glad I found this forum. You all will, no doubt, be invaluable on my little journey here. Back to what I would like in the tank. Where is the best place to find what species work with each other? I have already found some information on this, but many of them seem kind of obvious while others are not so obvious. I had no idea some of these little fish were so aggressive, even to a bigger fish. I have read some horror stories of the pet store selling things that don't go together and I really don't want that to happen to me. I would like to go in knowing what I want instead of asking them what I should get. Hope I'm not being too picky about all this, but I really want it done right. Thanks again for all the information so far.

caferacermike 11-01-2006 06:15 PM

You've been getting some great info thus far.

The way I grew up.

75g reef. Absolutely love the size, price, and options. A great place to begin.

29g for some fish that needed a place of their own.

a 7g for my girlfriend.


I just bought a 440g acrylic with oak stand and canopy. Will have 4x 400w MH lighting installed in the canopy. And to think, that's only about 4wpg. I'll be trying to figure out how to get 4 more in there. It will be here Feb 1st.

Some of the problems about equipment are due to availability. Some items are not well stocked in other parts of the country. It can be difficult to tell someone to buy euroreef or Tunze if they cannot find it locally.

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