This is my first post and if you don't need the background, please feel free to skip below to my questions, I appreciate any and all ideas and feedback.
I'm a newB that's interested in getting into saltwater. I've been reading a lot in books and on-line and pretty sure that I would like to start with a 75g (maybe 90 or 100) FOWLR tank. Then, as I'm sure most of the people in this hobby have done, I went to the fish store to get an idea of prices and got a fair amount of sticker shock!
First off, am I right that a beginning budget for a 75g FOWLR should be about 2k? By beginning, I mean tank with all the right accessories, the appropriate amount of live rock (I'm thinking 70-100 pounds) and, eventually, even a few fish.
Second off, I was looking around on Craig's list to see if I could find the tank used and found that most people selling tanks were also looking to sell the whole set-up (including live rock and fish). Obviously, I would love to start my own environment and do it slowly and build it up, but with some of the prices I'm seeing ($500-$800 for 75g tanks with the works and established rock and fish) are very temping (less than I'd pay for just the tank set-up new).
Obviously, the other appeal of getting a set-up used is just spending less before I'm positive that I'm going to love the hobby as much as I think that I will and enjoy the time spent maintaining it. It seems the only way to know is to actually care for a tank for a year or so and I'd hate to be desperately trying to sell the whole system that I got for 2k (or more) new for a few hundred bucks a year from now.
So, allow me to ask you all the following questions:
1. Is it a horrible idea to purchase an existing FOWLR tank used (I mean including live rock and some fish). Assuming, of course, that the tank and fish are in great shape and health in their current environment. I imagine that moving the whole set-up could be stressful to the whole system. Despite the obvious (missing out on the experience and fun of setting it up yourself), are the significant financial savings not worth the risk of moving the unit?
2. If not the whole set-up, which necessary pieces (tanks, plumbing, skimmer, etc.) are generally "safe" to buy used (either locally or on ebay).
3. Buying all new - what should a starting budget be for a 75g FOWLR set-up. I realize that it depends on what you want, but I mean just the initial cost to get the tank running with the appropriate amount of live rock.
Thanks for your time and input.
I would recommend that you take this somewhere in the middle. You can not put a price tag on knowledge, and buying a used complete setup and moving it to a new location will do nothing to give you the hands on experience of watching a system mature. I can't explain this, it is something you have to experience.
That being said, there is nothing wrong with piece buying your setup. There are plenty of used aquariums and stand available. These are a dime a dozen on Craigs list right now, so I would think you can get an incredible deal on a 75 gallon tank.
Lets say you buy the tank and stand for $300. At this point, for a FOWLR tank you will need a protein skimmer, live rock, and sand. You can save a ton of money ordering online, which is what I would suggest.
If you want to keep this less expensive, just to get your hands wet, then we can do that. You can skip a sump system, using a hang on skimmer, and save a lot of money. You can also use about 15 pounds of live rock and use dry rock. Here are some suggestions:
For a protein skimmer, I would use the AquaCRemora with prefilter box. $250
AquaC Remora Pro Protein Skimmer with Rio 1400 Pump
AquaC Surface Prefilter Box
For dry rock, I prefer Marco Rocks The finest aquarium rock available, base rock, live rock, reef rock, marco rock, reef tank saltwater fish, live corals, Marco rocks, Fiji live rock, Tonga Live rock. You can get 75 pounds of dry rock and 160 pounds of sand for $270. You can then buy 15 pounds of live rock for about $120. = $390 rock & sand.
At this point you are practically ready to get started. You've only spent $940. Granted, you will be picking up some basics, such as test kits, supplements, salt, a hydrometer, and foods. But overall you have come out way under a $2000 budget that you are discussing. AND you have the benefit of buying NEW equipment and experiencing the process for yourself.
By the way, be certain you only want a 75 gallon tank. MOST fish will not be able to live comfortably inside a 75 gallon tank. You may want to add a couple hundred dollars to this budget and consider a 125.
Thanks for your help, I appreciate it.
I was looking at the 125g tanks, as well but I would need to make sure that I could find the real estate for it. Am I right that 125g tanks usually come in either 48" or 72" versions? I had assumed that the 72 would be better but might not have room. Does the increased volume alone of a 125g vs 75g in a 48" version open the tank up to new types of fish or is it the length that matters most?
I have always felt that length is most important, but do not underestimate the advantage of 50 extra gallons of water. I would definitely buy the 125 gallon, even if you only go with the 48'' version.
Pasfur has covered the advice and I only popped in to say hello and welcome to the forum. I look foward to following your build. :-)
I've decided to try to find a used tank and stand and start everything else from scratch. I've got the measuring tape out and might of talked my wife into going with a 72" in the living room - so hopefully I'll be doing a 125g. I'm going to stew on it and research for a few weeks so I won't get started for another month but I'm looking forward to it when I do.
Now I'm debating whether or not to cure my own live rock. Seems like significant cash savings, but also seems like it could be a smelly mess - is it easy enough for someone with no previous experience to do and will it stink up my whole house? We have two home businesses here with clients that come over time to time so I can't afford to have it reek too bad for too long.
Thanks for the advice and I'll keep you all posted.
The process of "curing" rock is way over discussed. It is very common, in fact normal, to find live rock at the LFS that has been there for 2 or 3 weeks. The LFS generally keeps these live rocks in vats with a protein skimmer running. This rock is already "cured".
The confusion comes from the concept of curing, as opposed to cycling. The curing process refers to the die off of life on the rock that will not live in captivity or does not survive the shipment from ocean to LFS. This causes the rock to have an extremely bad odor. This process was a real issue 10 to 15 years ago, but today most rock is scrubbed at the wholesaler level and really does not cure like it used to. The rock arrives relatively clean, and within a few short days most die off has occurred.
Now, you will still need some time for the rock to cycle and mature in your home aquarium, but this is just a matter of a few days and the odor is nearly unnoticeable.
Dry rock will eventually become live -- it's all about the bacteria that will settle on and within the rock itself to perform the nitrification and denitrification cycle.
How dry rock becomes live is with a seed with a piece of live rock in the tank. If you place all your dry rock in your tank, and place that 1 piece of live rock on top of the dry, eventually all your rocks will become live rock.
(well it doesn't have to be on top, but it's been recommended for ages)
Great - thanks for clearing that up. How long does that process usually take? In a 125g tank, would 125lb dry rock with 25 lbs live rock be a good starting ratio?
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