Hello all! Saltwater newbie here looking to get some advice on starting up.


SPS Addict
Hi guys my name is Ryan and i am looking to get started reefkeeping. I have been into planted tanks and crs for a while now but they don't seem to match the mystique marine tanks have, so today I have decided to start myself on the way to getting a salt tank! I know close to nothing about salt tanks other than reading some of the newbie threads stickied here, and am a little bit overwhelmed by the amount of knowledge it seems I would need to know before I can get started. I have a few questions now that I hope you guys can help me answer.

1. I have decided on a larger tank around 55-90 gallons due to the fact that I want to eventually own a mandarin goby, not be restricted to smaller fish in the future when I want to expand, and also due to the fact that they are easier to maintain. I have seen some people say a 75 should be the minimum for mandarins, and I was wondering whether the refugium capacity is included in this number. Also how big of a refugium do you usually need as a percentage of tank size?

2. Trying to figure out what exactly to buy seems to be quite a difficult job with all the different parts, brands, requirements etc. Because of this I was looking at a plug and play set like the Red Sea Max 250. It would take a lot of the confusion out of getting started but I am afraid some of the parts would be mediocre and not up to my standard. I usually like to get the "best" of everything so I will never need to upgrade in the future should I require it. What do you guys think about their products? I dont know anything right now so I am not sure how good the specs are of the equipment on the sets.

3. If you think I should go custom, is there anywhere I can go to find a generally accepted list of the best brands for each part such as skimmer, lights, controller, etc? Or is there anywhere where people can suggest a list of equipment for you if you give them a budget? I will look each part up individually to make sure it all is compatible / sufficient if need be but this would make it much easier for me. I am thinking my max budget would be about 2000-2500 for everything EXcluding live rock, corals, and fauna. Would this be enough for good/best equipment at lets say 75 gallons?

4. I am located in Los Angeles county, any good marine shops around here you guys can recommend?

5. I have absolutely no experience in plumbing, electrics, or woodworking, so I am looking to purchase a ready made stand / sump area. Any recommendations for a good one?

Thank you for reading I know it was quite long. I think that is all of the questions I have for now, mostly right now I am just trying to figure out what equipment I need and what are the best brands for everything. Thanks for any advice you can give!