I’ve only recently discovered the reefing hobby. I’ve found lots of advise in how to get started and it’s left me even more confused. Some experts recommend starting with a big tank, but all the kits for new reefers seem to have a small tank. Are there any kits that include a larger tank or do I have to buy everything separately? As far as I can gather, the must have items seem to be a heater, a wave maker, and lights. What would be the best ones to start with? Are there any other items I can’t do without?
Some of the starter kits are great for people getting into the hobby. I’ve bought them myself as gifts for people looking to get started. It can be a little harder to keep the environment stable in a smaller tank, but the kits give you everything you need to look after your new tank. The smaller space helps you stay on a budget, and not go overboard filling it with corals, fish and inverts. A bigger tank means you have more tank to clean, and you’ll need a bigger cleaning crew. I hope that helps. Good luck!
Get a big tank, if you have the room. It’s much easier to keep it balanced. You’ll still need to monitor the salinity, alkalinity, and the levels of phosphates and nitrates, but changes will happen more slowly an be easier to catch before they have too much of an effect on the coral. I’d also recommend getting yourself a sump tank with a refugium asap. It’ll keep the water flowing, and clean out excess phosphates and nitrates so that you won’t have to change the water as often. You can hide it in a cabinet under the main tank.
I don’t have a tiny tank, but it’s not huge either. A 55 gallon tank fit the space I had perfectly. I have an affordable heater, lights, and a dohickey that keeps the water moving, but that’s it for now. My only filtration is the bacteria in the live rocks. I top up and change the water myself. I like doing it. It feel like I’m taking care of the fish myself. I understand that some people have busy lives and have to have it more automated, but my thought is, if you’re never home to appreciate it, why have a coral tank, you know?
Thanks for all the feedback. I think I’m going to try the starter kit after all, as Denny suggested. The bigger the tank, the harder it will be to maintain without expensive extras. If it’s easy, my wife is more likely to help me take care of it if it’s not too much. Jen’s suggestion that changing the water yourself helps to feel more attached to the fish might help me sell her on the idea of getting involved. At the moment she likes the idea of having a coral tank, but doesn’t want to actually take care of it.
If your wife ain’t willing to help out, don’t get into this hobby. You need a partner on this not an audience. Reefing is very rewarding, but if you come home and find your prize fish floating on the top because your missus refused to get her hands wet, that’s going to start resentment gnawing away at both of you. She’ll blame you for not taking care of the fish well enough, you’ll be angry at her for refusing to help. I bet she won’t be the one to dispose of it either. If you do get a tank, make sure you cover the top. I may be wrong but something tells me your wife is a cat person.
Welcome to the hobby. There’s no getting out once you’re in it. It can be very rewarding, but also heart-breaking. All the mistakes, missteps and things that go wrong anyway even if you think you’ve done everything right, it’s all worth it when you get the formula right and your tank thrives. There’s no better feeling than seeing all of your hard work pay off. Watching the coral flourish, and the cleaning crew working away as the fish take peaceful idyllic laps around the rocks is magical.