Large tank recommendations?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Benaminh, Aug 28, 2016.

  1. Benaminh

    Benaminh Guest

    I'm tank shopping at the moment and could use some feedback. I've already started the biological filtration cycle going with seeded sand and rock in a trash bin. No reason for that to wait due to my indecision :rolleyes:.

    I'm placing the tank in a corner, so only the front and one side are viewable. It will be on a cement block foundation, so weight's not an issue. The one constant is eurobracing & tank length at 72" to fit the nook.

    I was debating the following sizes:

    135g - 72Lx18Wx25H ~$300
    180 - 72x18x31
    180 - 72x24x25
    240 - 72x24x31 ~$750
    *260 - 72x24x36 ~$1,100

    305 -72x24x48
    350 -72x36x36
    390 -72x30x48
    460 -72x36x48

    I'm leaning towards the 260g because it's a standard size glass versus custom. The tank will be next to the kitchen, so I would like the stand and canopy to match the kitchen cabinets. My base cabinets are 34.5Hx24W. I initially wanted a 18" wide tank because I have a storage cupboard there now that's 72x18x82 and is a perfect fit for the alcove; however, that would complicate using the prefab kitchen base cabinets from the same manufacturer as a stand.

    If I loose the idea of matching cabinets completely and go with a welded steel stand, that opens up the field to the huge sized tanks.

    I'm reluctant to go past 305g because of equipment expense and maintenance issues. This tank has to be self contained with a sump under the stand, I don't have the luxury of building an attached fish room. Ugh, large water changes with buckets. So far, the biggest I've kept was a 180g FW CO2 planted tank; so mentally, I think I can deal with the maintenance of 180g-305g range no problem. Speaking of the 305g, while 48" height would maximize the water volume and eliminate the need for a canopy, my arms are only 35" long!

    I prefer cleaning glass tanks with razor blades and can't imagine babying another acrylic tank. The prices for custom tanks seems out of my reach, and then I would want Starphire glass too, external overflow, etc and the cost would skyrocket.

    The proposed $NEW$ equipment list for the stand so far is skimmer, pump, heaters, biggest sump possible with built in refugium, ATO & R/O unit, 2-part dosing system, chiller, & Neptune controller.

    I already have a 400w MH luminarc & Radium fixture waiting for the SPS island and a LED pendant for anemone mound on the tank's opposite end.

    While I started nano-reefing back in 1990, this is basically an advanced intermediate upgrade to accommodate all my Acros, angels, and tangs. This won't be my last tank, I predict a bigger custom setup in 10 years. What's your opinion?
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2016
  2. aqua-nut

    aqua-nut Supporting Member

    I'd cross off all the 18" width tanks. Too hard to get a good feeling of depth in the aquascape. I have a 24" high tank and it's a PIA to get to the bottom. Tanks more than 24" width will be hard to reach the back, especially the back corner with no side access.

    You need to figure out some method to change water other than buckets. Makes my back hurt just thinking about hauling that many buckets for a WC!:mad:
  3. MolaMola

    MolaMola Supporting Member

    WOW. Cool planning time for you! I am short and my 20"H tank is all I can deal with and so glad I didn't get even a 24"H. I would visit shops and reach in toward the back and see what you like. Will need to use reaching tools? Can be tricky to maneuver in a stocked tank. Also, if you decide to have a canopy don't forget to include that if it increases the height you have to reach in over. I agree that 18" front to back is too small since you can avoid it. Again, I think trying it on for size in person would help a lot with your decision.
    Go for pump and long tubing for moving water. Two people = better but you can set it up for solo
  4. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    Your tank dimensions and gallonage are slightly off, not factoring in the thickness of the glass [(LxWxH)/231].

    135g - 72Lx18Wx25H ~$300 -- 140G
    180 - 72x18x31 -- 174G
    180 - 72x24x25 -- 187G
    240 - 72x24x31 ~$750 -- 232G
    *260 - 72x24x36 ~$1,100 -- 269G

    305 -72x24x48 -- 359G
    350 -72x36x36 -- 404G
    390 -72x30x48 -- 449G
    460 -72x36x48 -- 539G

    The 240G-260G tank if you're going with a non-custom tank. Anything more than 24" deep makes it nearly impossible to clean due to the width. If you don't mind the back not getting cleaned, then consider the larger tanks, especially if you have any sort of snorkeling gear. Your 35" arms are if you dip it straight down into the tank. As you get further into the tank you're gonna need arms longer than 48" or more to reach the bottom back.

    Consider plumbing a manifold line in your output line so that you don't have to bucket brigade your water changes (or invest in something like a litermeter). I would also ditch the two part dosing and take a look at a calcium reactor instead.
  5. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    My custom tank is 88"L x 28"W x 24"H Rimless, around 230G
    But it was built to fit in an alcove, so ended up a bit longer and skinnier than I would have liked.
    Rimless is really nice for access.
    Do no go higher than you can reach. But too shallow looks like a frag tank.
    Width (front to back) really helps. I wish I had more.

    My opinion for an ideal 240G size would be 72"L x 36"W x 22"H

    * That is for a REEF tank. For a FISH tank, you do want the height, for better viewing.
  6. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Man what's with the 36" high tank? just watching that tank get more expensive due to increased glass thickeness necessary for a taller tank. I would prefer a wider tank to a taller tank, but preference and all that rot, with a tall tank most will have a hard time cleaning the glass down deep, very often people use the "armpit test", put your hand into the tank wherever your arm pit hits the glass is the deepest tank you should get.

    That said $300 for a 72x18x25? And that's a new price? That is not too shabby at all, when I got into the hobby (for real) I bought a used 135g off craigslist for $200 and I thought that was a fantastic deal 13 years ago!. Where are you pricing tanks, I'm thinking of reusing an acrylic tank, but if I could get away with a glass tank I might be willing to drop some coin (especially if I can get that 36" width but only 24" height.

    Oh, and a word of advice, if you do not have the ability to do water changes for the size tank you're going with, don't go too large. I fell into that trap with my 375g tank with a 200+ gallon sump, while there were other circumstances that lead to that tank's downfall (aiptasia, bubble algae, pregnant wife, etc) not doing that 20% biweekly water change was probably the biggest, I did eventually get a 100g water container, but by then it was too little too late.
    gimmito likes this.
  7. gimmito

    gimmito Guest

    I agree with the aforementioned advice. Get a tank that you can comfortably reach in, otherwise cleaning the tank becomes a chore. Pics of the existing kitchen would be good since a large tank can shrink a room fast. If you can find a way to plumb drainage for easy water changes you will thank me later. ;)
    *I have a Geo calcium reactor if you go that route or a Profilux controller with doser.
  8. Benaminh

    Benaminh Guest

    Thanks for the input everyone, keep it coming.

    @Ibn : thanks for the corrections, those measurements & volumes are from the tank makers, I just copied it over. I'm surprised at the huge discrepancy on some of them, even accounting for overflow displacement. I was debating about the calcium reactor because of the horror stories of failed pumps or malfunctions leading to pH crashes. I just want consistent Ca levels for SPS health and slow to medium growth, higher concentrations leading to rampant growth is tedious. I already went through that injecting CO2 for freshwater plants and constantly trimming them back. The less I have to stick my hands into the aquarium, the better.

    @aqua-nut made a good point about limited access near the blind corner I hadn't considered. @MolaMola I already use the pump & hose method for my present tank, but still have to make trips bringing the new water and then emptying the buckets of old water. @gimmito I'm on septic system and was told not to dump the old water into the sink, Can't dump it on the ground because it will kill my garden, so I've been pouring it on my flat driveway to evaporate. The winter monsoons should dump enough water to dilute the salts for innocuous runoff. Do you think the H&S A150-F2001 will be adequate for the 260 gallon tank? Please PM me about the Geo & Profilux. If I'm spending over a grand for the 72x24x36, I have to buy used equipment to stay on budget.

    @sfsuphysics I had excellent results using peppermint shrimp on Aiptasia, I trade them in after a few months... the pregnant wife, on the other hand, might not be too keen on the idea ;). My LFS has a slightly used 130 for $300 and a new one for $350. He usually gives me good deals because I tend to buy as much of my stuff from him as possible to support local business. Dry goods are cheaper online, but it's worth it for me to pay a little more and as a result I get to see livestock in person before purchasing. His aquarium prices in my previous post are cheaper than these guys because the markup margin is lower:

    I stuck my arm into the empty 72x18x24 sitting on the ground @ the LFS today and my armpit was right on the rim. @rygh Going lower in height is not an option because of my large angelfishes, so I figured 36" will be just as bad as 24" when I'm on a ladder, or am I wrong? I'm running the tank bare bottom with minimal rock work. I'm planning on spray painting the back and bottom with a mirror finish. I figure once the SPS colonies get going, they will hide the lower back sections I can't reach with a scraper. Here's my aquascaping inspiration:
    image.jpeg image.jpeg
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  9. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    The reason why I suggested the Ca reactor is due to the large size of the tank. For something that large it's more economical and practical to run a calcium reactor than to do 2 part. The areas under consideration are:
    • Dosing pumps. You'll need two for Ca and Alk and then add Mg manually during your water changes. Otherwise 3 dosing pumps to automate all 3 and then the testings required to continuous monitor your levels (usage and uptake will vary dependent on the corals in the tank).
    • Containers. You'll have to use some large containers just to be able to hold a month's worth of solution or otherwise continuously mix and add solution to the dosing containers regularly. To move calcium levels 50 points in a week on a 300G tank, it requires 1.5L of calcium solution (from 350 to 400 ppm).
    At a certain point in time, 2 part will not be able to keep up with demand from the corals.

    Also, regarding some of your other questions. The H&S A150-F2001 is a good skimmer, but can't handle the size tank that you're considering. I used one a long time ago and while it did well on the ADA tank that I had, I doubt that it can handle a tank size of your volume (especially with tangs and angels).

    You might want to check out Marc Levenson's ( site since he puts into details his setups, with his current 400G tank and his previous 280G tank. I also hope you aren't using Glasscages for your tank. I'm not sure if their craftsmanship has improved since the last time that I checked, but I wouldn't trust such a large tank to them.
  10. gimmito

    gimmito Guest

    I agree with Ibn's points regarding pro's and con's of dosing and a CaRx. The H&S A150 is rated to a 220 gal tank and would be undersized with the big fish you are thinking of keeping.

    I'll pm you regarding the Geo CaRx and Profilux.
  11. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Ditto on what Eric said about Glasscages. even if you aren't using them, using them as a reference point for how much you can get a tank is kind of like looking at Jebao products for a gauge to how much something should cost. Hopefully your LFS isn't sourcing them for their tanks.
  12. Benaminh

    Benaminh Guest

    @sfsuphysics ever thought of selling those two 100g storage tanks from the group buy? Let me know....

    I'm not the best at arithmetic, so if I fill the 260g tank initially with real ocean water, and do weekly 10%, 25g, instant ocean water changes, how long will it take to almost completely replace the real ocean water? I'm considering replacing 50-100% of the tank water with real ocean water periodically or annually. The water truck from Monterrey delivers.

    I'm not considering glasscages as a viable source, already read the bad reviews. I referenced their list for tank dimensions and volume only. And the pricing is a jumping off point. You might disparage Jebao products, but they do fill a niche. My LFS is probably getting the tanks from central pet or whatever distributor has a strangle hold on the west coast. I've seen the build quality of the large tanks come in and it's fine.

    So what skimmers do you recommend new? Or older ones I can keep an eye out for on CL or eBay -- quiet & efficient please. I was coveting Royal Exclusiv's Dreambox last night online, but alas, I don't have $4,000 for a sump.

    @Ibn @gimmito I take it by your posts it's not feasible to keep SPS without a Ca reactor? Is it possible to add the dosing equipment later when the frags actually become colonies or will that be a pain with moving things around the sump?

    Yes, I'm familiar with Marc's site. His 280g would be the custom route I would go if I was rolling in cash. I especially like the external overflow & CUSTOM BUILT FISHROOM (!). I'm trying to create a poor man's version of his setup by distilling the information he has generously shared online.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  13. rygh

    rygh Supporting Member

    > Going lower in height is not an option because of my large angelfishes, so I figured 36" will be just as bad as 24" when I'm on a ladder, or am I wrong?

    The difference: At 24" water height, you can grab things on the bottom with your fingers or short tweezers,
    and you can easily squeeze glue onto rocks for mounting things. That last bit matters more than you might think.
    At 36", you need a mask and snorkel.

    Not sure why large angels need more water depth as opposed to just general swimming room.
    Of course, not sure I would put them in a reef tank anyway.

    I run a reef octopus on my 240G, seems good.
    I run DIY 2 part, not CaRx, but do not have much in the line of SPS.
  14. sfsuphysics

    sfsuphysics Supporting Member

    Sorry, Coral Reefer took my other one, and the one I have is still partially in use.

    If you took it in a very basic view after the first week you'll have 90% ROW and 10% IO, but then that'll mix up, the next week you'll have 81%, etc. you'll never be rid of real ocean water simply due to the fact there's going to be some fractional amount still in there. But a quick throw on a spread sheet shows you'll be about 50/50 at approximately week 8, 25/75 at week 13, 10/90 at week 22.

    Not disparaging Jebao products, I realize they fill a niche, I'm just using them as a comparison for pricing how much "things should cost", they are the bottom of the barrel as far as pricing, and some might argue quality, however some argue (myself included) that an $80 pump has a better return on investment than a $500 pump from Tunze or something. And yeah Central Pet, they used to sell the Oceanic brand of tanks, and basically kept Marineland from selling tanks, I'm unsure what brands they're pushing now, but yeah they have a racket.

    I wouldn't go with an old skimmer myself, I love the newer ones, they have such a good power used to gunk pull ratio. There's some recommendations in the other skimmer thread, it really depends upon your product
  15. Benaminh

    Benaminh Guest

    FYI, I'm going budget now to save my money for this dream custom aquarium when I build my McMansion o_O:D. Love this tank, perfect for a school of Moorish Idols:
  16. Benaminh

    Benaminh Guest

    @sfsuphysics Mike, thanks for the calculation... So 52 weeks in a year, let's say biannual ROW replacement @ ~$1/g = $520 a year or approximately $1.40 cost per day. Not bad.

    I'm watching that thread. I have minimal knowledge about skimmers because I never really used one with nanotanks. I figure quiet and efficient is enough, I thought wet versus dry skimmate was due to tuning not construction? I'm okay with slightly dirty water, say NO3 ~ 5ppm and some PO3 too = SPS sunblock
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  17. Benaminh

    Benaminh Guest

    I stuck my arm into an empty 90g 48x18x36 today and with my armpit on the rim, my fingertips are less than an inch from the tank bottom and full reach on the back pane. That works for me.

    Just talked to the LFS, they source their tanks from Central Pet, SC in SoCal, aquarium masters, elite tanks, and some place in Nevada, plus others. He goes through a tank broker. So they'll send me some quotes in a day or two, good news is, 72x24x36 is a relatively standard size so it shouldn't be ridiculously expensive, even with my overflow design.

    Tell me what you think: I want an acrylic panel sectioning off a few inches of the entire left side for the overflow. There will be three compartments. The central compartment is the overflow itself, sandwiched by two dry dummy compartments where I can place some Eco-tech MP60's in a slave/master alternating flow pattern. Bare bottom tank.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  18. Ibn

    Ibn Supporting Member

    It's a balancing act with the big 3 (alk, ca, and mg) for sps. Take for instance, too little or too much alk. Too little and chances are you'll start seeing stn from the base up (one of the factors). Too much and you get burnt tips. With SPS it's about balancing them and more importantly keeping it consistent and stable. Kind of similar to how N,P, and K are with FWP tanks. The micros then get stacked/replenished on top of this.

    While you can get away with dosing initially, I don't think it's a long term solution especially if you decide to go with SPS (kind of like a yeast reactor vs. pressurized in FWP). I'm using a dosing system on my current tank, which is ~1/6 the size of what you're looking at and I'm still going through 40mL of Ca daily to keep up with my sticks, and none of them are colonies (baby maxima also consumes some of it up).
    Benaminh likes this.
  19. Benaminh

    Benaminh Guest

    Got two quotes back, while waiting for others.

    135g 72L X 18W X 24H Starphire = $860

    260g 72x24x36 1" regular glass & custom overflow = $1,300

    Weighing pros/cons, the difference is between a $400 non-SP tank versus $1,300 for twice the water volume. It's also crossing a threshold or two on the size and cost of equipment. <sigh> Methinks going with the larger tank will double or triple the present budget just to set it up, but it makes the most fish sense o_O.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2016
  20. Vincerama2

    Vincerama2 Evil Overlord

    I'm wondering if a CaRx will handle Ca/Alk AND Mg. I mean the media is usually dead coral bits, so in theory they would contain Mg wouldn't they? (Maybe they don't? Maybe Mg is in the water but not actually used in coral skeleton?)


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