Neptune Aquatics

Beginner reefer seeking advice

Thank you all for the advice! Didn't expect this many replies! :)

I'm pretty dead set on a tank size in the range of 10-20g due to limited space, but not on the model! I like the sleek look of the Innovative Marine Fusion 15 tank and I see it's about 3 times cheaper than the bio cube. Is that just because it doesn't come with lighting? If I would need to get my own lighting, what would be a good light to fit with it?

My takeaway here is that I need to lower the number of fish in the tank. It's very important to me that the fish are given a good home, so thank you for letting me know! I was watching some videos yesterday and saw an alternative to the blue tang was the Yellow Tail Damsel. I'll take a look at the fish lists you all provided and try to curate a new list

Also another question - Should clown fish be bought in pairs? And will they fight if they aren't the same exact species? I'm seeing mixed information online


They can be bought in pairs but they don't have to be. Definitely don't mix species they will kill each other. The risk with buying clowns that aren’t already paired is they may not get a long (maybe kill each other) or it may be love at first sight. If you go that route be ready to separate them if they don't get along. It also helps if one is much smaller than the other one.

I would encourage you not to consider maroon clownfish, or clarkis for the reason they are highly agressive and they get larger than other types of clownfish to big for your intended tank size.

If you are patient you can find a deal on a really nice pair of fancy clowns many people in the bay area breed them if you want something different than standard
orange nemos.

I have a bio cube there are lots of potential hidden costs to them as in you will want several upgrades to them as you learn more about the hobby (I've probably spent upwards of $350 on add ons to mine, light bars, media basket, in tank refuge, uv sterilizer just to name a few. They aren't required but as mentioned you most likely eventually want some of them), so the tank the others are recomending even though Doesn’t include a light may actually be cheaper all things considered.
 
Welcome to BAR @elee901 ! This is a great place to learn and get wisdom.

I started off the with the Fluval 13.5. Still have it and currently using the stock light. I have it on a smart switch for my on/off times. I also have the return pump on a smart switch so I can create routines like, "Feed Evo" and it will turn off the pumps and automatically turn it back on after 30 minutes. The stock light has its limitations. Specifically not being able to switch to the blues using a switch. It requires a manual push of the button. Other than that, I've really enjoyed that tank. It sits right next to my bed and it brings me lots of joy.

If I had to choose, I'd go with the IM tank though. You'll be investing more initially, but it's a much better tank.
 
Looks like they are releasing a “budget” 20 gallon version of the IM 15 they released last year. IM 20 Gallon available to ship in March from what I can tell. This would be fantastic starter tank. Throw in a heater, power head (recommended; but optional depending on what you plan to keep), and a light and you’re off to the races. I’d recommend swapping out the filter sock for two media baskets and upgrading the return pumps down the road but not a must do initially. I ran one of these tanks for about 2.5 years with a single prime 16HD.
 
Thank you all for the advice! Didn't expect this many replies! :)

I'm pretty dead set on a tank size in the range of 10-20g due to limited space, but not on the model! I like the sleek look of the Innovative Marine Fusion 15 tank and I see it's about 3 times cheaper than the bio cube. Is that just because it doesn't come with lighting? If I would need to get my own lighting, what would be a good light to fit with it?

My takeaway here is that I need to lower the number of fish in the tank. It's very important to me that the fish are given a good home, so thank you for letting me know! I was watching some videos yesterday and saw an alternative to the blue tang was the Yellow Tail Damsel. I'll take a look at the fish lists you all provided and try to curate a new list

Also another question - Should clown fish be bought in pairs? And will they fight if they aren't the same exact species? I'm seeing mixed information online
@phc567 - concur that most damsels are mean-but there are some damsels that are not-I have 5 lyretail damsels (yellow tail) and they are generally pretty chill. There are some others that are also pretty tame but far and few.

Dwarf angels are another possibility -I think there are a couple in the 2-3 inch range. And they generally are great algae eaters.

But another approach is the apply the 1/2 inch of fish to gallon rule-so for a 16 gallon tank-you could have 8 inch of total fish-so possibly two small clowns or 4 nano fish that are 1.5-2 inch.

I also second IM and also check out the UNS all in one tanks as well.
 
Welcome. I believe the reason why many folks enter and leave the hobby quickly is because they. start with a nano AIO. Nanos are too hard for beginners IMO. No sump, no proper skimmer, no algae-eating fish, no fish that fits, not enough water, constant battle getting all stable. One of the best beginner tanks is the Innovative Marine 50. Anything smaller is more likely to be not successful longer term.
 
You can get a 40 breeder pretty cheap from petco. Not much bigger footprint than a 20 but twice the water volume. I’m sure someone here has a used light you could get for cheap.
I suggest upgrading to supporting membership so you can see the buy sell trade forums too
 
You can get a 40 breeder pretty cheap from petco. Not much bigger footprint than a 20 but twice the water volume. I’m sure someone here has a used light you could get for cheap.
I suggest upgrading to supporting membership so you can see the buy sell trade forums too
40 breeder is an awesome tank!
 
@Alexander1312 -seems the issue at large is literally the size of the tank that @elee901 can have! I do concur that a 5–10 gal would be tough for a novice -but I think a 20 gal should be ok -especially lately with all the more recent availability of equipment geared towards nano-tanks including rollermats & protein skimmers and some awesome advice from this group-
Just stick to regular water changes and it should resolve 90-95 of the issues-if there are any!
 
@Alexander1312 -seems the issue at large is literally the size of the tank that @elee901 can have! I do concur that a 5–10 gal would be tough for a novice -but I think a 20 gal should be ok -especially lately with all the more recent availability of equipment geared towards nano-tanks including rollermats & protein skimmers and some awesome advice from this group-
Just stick to regular water changes and it should resolve 90-95 of the issues-if there are any!

Yes, I agree, Lawrence. Tank size is sometimes non-negotiable. And I am also sure you can do it with all of your experience. My feedback was more around future issues vs managing current issues.

I am coming from my most recent experience starting a 25 g nano in September 2022 as a complete newbie (still am), while the person at AC recommended the next bigger size with a sump (double the water). I had already a feeling that this was not meant to upsell me but a sincere recommendation, still it felt to large for me at that time, and I was intimated by the sump plumbing etc (still am :)). The right recommendation in hindight.

Nano tank equipment is still extremly limited compared to the choices you have with a proper sump. A concrete example is the Max Nano peninsula I bought shortly after its release in 2022. There is no adequate skimmer available for this (due to the dimensions of the sump area in the back) and the common agreement across its owners is that the stock skimmer is the best choice. This skimmer is not great, some say terrible, but when you buy a Tunze skimmer that fits, you realize how 'great' the stock skimmer actually is in comparison. As a result, nutrient management continues to be an issue, unless you divert to larger water changes, 10% will not cut it long term (and I only fed once a day at that time). I was able to manage phosphate with very small amounts of lanthanum chloride daily, GFO was not at all effective in these small tanks due to the water flow.

Also, the parameter swings if you are not micromanaging this are significant. I felt that the first 12 months of owning the nano were a constant fire drill to keep things somewhat stable. No fun, only work. I consider myself competitive so I wanted to master this unexpected challenge, but I would never recommend anyone going through the same learning cycle, which partly is from being a newbie, but also to a large part by being given the wrong size to manage.

Nano tanks are being marketed as beginner tanks but are absolutely not IMO. They look nice from a design perspective and are small to fit into that little corner where you would put your plant but now chose to setup a tank. If you are are a pro, you can setup a nano tank from the beginning in an effective way, and limit subsequent issues to some extent, but the newbie will not do that, even if given good advice here and there.

I am on a crusade against the nanos, if you cannot tell :), and I believe they are a big reason why people do not stay in the hobby.
 
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Yes, I agree, Lawrence. Tank size is sometimes non-negotiable. And I am also sure you can do it with all of your experience. My feedback was more around future issues vs managing current issues.

I am coming from my most recent experience starting a 25 g nano in September 2022 as a complete newbie (still am), while the person at AC recommended the next bigger size with a sump (double the water). I had already a feeling that this was not meant to upsell me but a sincere recommendation, still it felt to large for me at that time, and I was intimated by the sump plumbing etc (still am :)). The right recommendation in hindight.

Nano tank equipment is still extremly limited compared to the choices you have with a proper sump. A concrete example is the Max Nano peninsula I bought shortly after its release in 2022. There is no adequate skimmer available for this (due to the dimensions of the sump area in the back) and the common agreement across its owners is that the stock skimmer is the best choice. This skimmer is not great, some say terrible, but when you buy a Tunze skimmer that fits, you realize how 'great' the stock skimmer actually is in comparison. As a result, nutrient management continues to be an issue, unless you divert to larger water changes, 10% will not cut it long term (and I only fed once a day at that time). I was able to manage phosphate with very small amounts of lanthanum chloride daily, GFO was not at all effective in these small tanks due to the water flow.

Also, the parameter swings if you are not micromanaging this are significant. I felt that the first 12 months of owning the nano were a constant fire drill to keep things somewhat stable. No fun, only work. I consider myself competitive so I wanted to master this unexpected challenge, but I would never recommend anyone going through the same learning cycle, which partly is from being a newbie, but also to a large part by being given the wrong size to manage.

Nano tanks are being marketed as beginner tanks but are absolutely not IMO. They look nice from a design perspective and are small to fit into that little corner where you would put your plant but now chose to setup a tank. If you are are a pro, you can setup a nano tank from the beginning in an effective way, and limit subsequent issues to some extent, but the newbie will not do that, even if given good advice here and there.

I am on a crusade against the nanos, if you cannot tell :), and I believe they are a big reason why people do not stay in the hobby.
@Alexander1312- fair enough-i actually started with a 100 gallon tank -not a nano-but I can see how the parameters can be problematic indeed-and for someone just beginning this journey-it could end before it begins.,

It will be interesting to see how the new Red Sea G2 nanos play out any better than the old but it’s also a steep entry price at any rate.

I like the UNS tanks and they actually do have a protein skimmer that actually looks decent- unfortunately it won’t fit in the IM’s. Also waiting to see the deal with the nano roller and where that fits.,

But whole in whole I do agree that having a full sump makes a big difference.
 
Yes, I agree, Lawrence. Tank size is sometimes non-negotiable. And I am also sure you can do it with all of your experience. My feedback was more around future issues vs managing current issues.

I am coming from my most recent experience starting a 25 g nano in September 2022 as a complete newbie (still am), while the person at AC recommended the next bigger size with a sump (double the water). I had already a feeling that this was not meant to upsell me but a sincere recommendation, still it felt to large for me at that time, and I was intimated by the sump plumbing etc (still am :)). The right recommendation in hindight.

Nano tank equipment is still extremly limited compared to the choices you have with a proper sump. A concrete example is the Max Nano peninsula I bought shortly after its release in 2022. There is no adequate skimmer available for this (due to the dimensions of the sump area in the back) and the common agreement across its owners is that the stock skimmer is the best choice. This skimmer is not great, some say terrible, but when you buy a Tunze skimmer that fits, you realize how 'great' the stock skimmer actually is in comparison. As a result, nutrient management continues to be an issue, unless you divert to larger water changes, 10% will not cut it long term (and I only fed once a day at that time). I was able to manage phosphate with very small amounts of lanthanum chloride daily, GFO was not at all effective in these small tanks due to the water flow.

Also, the parameter swings if you are not micromanaging this are significant. I felt that the first 12 months of owning the nano were a constant fire drill to keep things somewhat stable. No fun, only work. I consider myself competitive so I wanted to master this unexpected challenge, but I would never recommend anyone going through the same learning cycle, which partly is from being a newbie, but also to a large part by being given the wrong size to manage.

Nano tanks are being marketed as beginner tanks but are absolutely not IMO. They look nice from a design perspective and are small to fit into that little corner where you would put your plant but now chose to setup a tank. If you are are a pro, you can setup a nano tank from the beginning in an effective way, and limit subsequent issues to some extent, but the newbie will not do that, even if given good advice here and there.

I am on a crusade against the nanos, if you cannot tell :), and I believe they are a big reason why people do not stay in the hobby.

I think this is pretty good advice. The workaround with nanos is to simply do large water changes fairly often - and virtually nothing else, IMHO.

I think a trap newbies often fall into is making too many changes/adding too many products/etc which are exacerbated by the small nano volume. Water changes are easy with nano tanks and solve a lot of problems, and if done often enough provide stability as well.

This is my philosophy whenever I run my nano and it usually does pretty well - though I have not done it longer than a year or so. I often put struggling corals into the nano to recover, and they usually do!
 
I think this is pretty good advice. The workaround with nanos is to simply do large water changes fairly often - and virtually nothing else, IMHO.

I think a trap newbies often fall into is making too many changes/adding too many products/etc which are exacerbated by the small nano volume. Water changes are easy with nano tanks and solve a lot of problems, and if done often enough provide stability as well.

This is my philosophy whenever I run my nano and it usually does pretty well - though I have not done it longer than a year or so. I often put struggling corals into the nano to recover, and they usually do!
This. If something looks bad, it's so easy to do 50-75% on a 10g tank vs. a 100g tank.

I learned on a nano but I also read books constantly and spent time on forums a ton. Don't expect it to ever be a full blown SPS tank, but if you keep soft corals and easy LPS with one or two fish, it's really not that hard, and can be a great way to keep costs down and learn how to do things. Just keep salinity in check since they swings the most.

@elee901 thank you for becoming a $upporting member as @Kensington Reefer always says. It will be the best $30 you spend in the hobby!
 
The Noopsyche K7 mini light is an absolute steal for the price, has great spectrum and pop, and looks pretty classy. The software isn't the easiest but once you set it, you shouldn't need to mess with it again. I have one of these on my Fluval 13.5g (when it's running) and it's a great budget option for a small tank.

I like the Fluval 13.5 quite a bit - but the stock light is total junk. I'd also recommend getting the drop-in thingy for the AIO chamber, makes it really easy to just use little wads of poly as a filter:

It's a really nice little tank!
Including the light, what is the total height of the tank? I'm thinking about putting the nano tank in my kitchen in an alcove where there are ceiling mounted cabinets above. I've got 16 inches of clearance for the height and realized the biocube is 17.5 inches high. Seems like the Fluval evo 13.5 is 15 inches high including the stock light.
 
Including the light, what is the total height of the tank? I'm thinking about putting the nano tank in my kitchen in an alcove where there are ceiling mounted cabinets above. I've got 16 inches of clearance for the height and realized the biocube is 17.5 inches high. Seems like the Fluval evo 13.5 is 15 inches high including the stock light.

Sounds like you only have a couple inches of clearance tops? I am not sure how much height is added with the light (tank not setup right now) but it’s certainly more than 2 inches, even with the flexible gooseneck mount. You are lightly restricted to the stock light on that space, that’s a pretty tight fit!
 
Yeah, I just remodeled my condo and think it would look good if I could fit it under the cabinets. Only problem is there’s only 16.75 inches of clearance. Are you aware of any other tanks that might work in that space? The fluval 13.5 would work with the stock light but I heard it wasn’t great.
IMG_7597.jpeg
 
Looks like the tank alone is 12" so you're tight on space (keep in mind clearance for you to access it). AI blades would fit but they're really not worth the price.
 
Looks like the tank alone is 12" so you're tight on space (keep in mind clearance for you to access it). AI blades would fit but they're really not worth the price.
Is it realistic to pull the tank out 6 or so inches when I need to do water changes and cleaning? I know water tanks are heavy but I figured I could carefully pull it forward. My sink would be right next to the tank which would make things a little easier.
 
Is it realistic to pull the tank out 6 or so inches when I need to do water changes and cleaning? I know water tanks are heavy but I figured I could carefully pull it forward. My sink would be right next to the tank which would make things a little easier.
I wouldn't, it might scratch the heck out of the counter and the tank will weigh over 100lbs full. Plus you have to be careful of splashes of soap and other chemicals from the sink getting into the tank or onto the power strip.
 
Pardon the horrific artistic rendition, but have you considered the UNS 90B - 35.43 x 7.87 x 9.84" - 12 Gallons? These are fantastic tanks. You’ll need to run on a small hob filter but you could make it pretty clean. 36” long, along the back wall under the cabinet, buy one or two 30” ai blade and Velcro/adhere it to the underside of the cabinet. Give you about 7” of clearance above the tank and you won’t see the light fixture
 

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