New to the hobby help with set-up buy


New member
Hello Im wanting to enter the world of saltwater water keeping as some have put it. I have kept freshwater fish all my life and african cichlids the past few years. But now I want to step up to the big leagues I have a 29 gal that I would like to use I have nothing yet I need some advice on what to buy. I would like to do a reef but I understand if 29 isn't big enough. Any advice would help with lights, pumps, powerhead the works. Thank you.


New member
29 is doable but if you "understand" that it might be small, and you've been looking for a reason to upgrade then do it. I always suggest spending the money with a drilled tank, even on small ones. Start slow, and get into daily routines. Salt tanks have daily requirements to keep looking their best. I find the first question to ask is what about marine tanks interest you the most? Then from there you set your plans in motion.


New member
Yes, definitely spend the day or so required to comb through the threads in the "Setting Up" sticky at the top of the forum.

Generally, those of us with some experience in the hobby suggest that beginners start with larger tanks, with a 40 gallon breeder being the minimum. The reason is fairly straightforward - water chemistry stability and maintenance is typically the biggest challenge a new reefer faces, and excursions in salinity, nutrient load, etc... happen much more quickly in "nano" tanks (under 30 gallons).

However, since you've a good deal of freshwater experience, you don't have as much of a learning curve as someone that starts with a saltwater tank, so your 29 gallon may work for you. However, consider that for a reef tank, the cost of lighting, pumps, rock, test kits, etc... typically works out to be at least $1000 - $1500 in the 75 gallon or less range, so the actual tank is one of the cheapest items. And since the incremental cost of equipment is fairly slight when going between, for example, a 30 gallon to a 75 gallon tank, it makes sense to start with the larger tank because you can keep more animals for about the same amount of money.

Good Luck, Welcome to Reef Central, and don't be afraid to ask "stupid questions" - it's why we're here!


New member
I dipped my toe back in the water with a 29 bio after an extended hiatus from the SW hobby. Probably one of the funnest builds I I've done yet as I found out about all those that basically have ripped them apart and completely re-modified them to perform better than they do stock. There's tons of people drilling them these days and created sumps to increase water volume, which, to dkeller_nc's point, gives you a little more wiggle room with fluctuations in water condition.

Part of the fun, for me at least, is all the research before I make the first purchase. Folks are doing some very cool things these days, and if the investment in research isn't made on the front end, it's almost guaranteed you'll be smacking yourself in the head the day after you bought something, because "if you only saw this first".

Take a good dose of patience - patience in learning, patience in set up, patience in cycling, patience in etc. and you will be well served. Welcome!


Unregistered Member
Agree, it can be done. My first reef tank was a 10g.

That said, if it were me, I would bump it up to at least a 40g breeder. The 30x12 footprint of 29g's are difficult to work with. I would drill the 40 and use the 29 as a sump.

As everyone else has said...research, research, research.

sticky polyps

New member
+1 to all replies. Congrats! keep us updated. youtube is a great educational reference, it's where I learned a lot about reef setup and water chemistry. for equipment info I like BRS TV channel.


Staff member
RC Mod
Lights determine the type of corals you can keep. The right T5 will handle anything up to SPS (stick) corals. If you're doing your first marine tank I'd advise not trying SPS, which is bleeding edge. SOfties are fairly lowlight; most stony prefers bright. I use a 250 watt metal halide light at 10000k with two actinics as color correction in a 100 g wedge shape tank and do fine with lps (fluffy stony) corals---softies (no stony skeleton) could live on the bottom in dimmer areas, but again, mixing types is a little challenge and best stick to one type as you start out. Latest on the scene is LED lighting, which does not require the fiercely expensive ballasts and the semi-annual replacement of a hundred dollars worth of bulbs. OTOH, this is a developing tech, still, and best consult with the lighting forum on the specific dimensions of your tank and exactly what LED rig will give you most bang for the buck. I've thought of replacing my MH with LED, and it might take more than one fixture, and it might require as much electricity as I would save because MH heats a tank and LED doesn't---it might mean I had to turn my heater more. All sorts of tradeoffs.

When you do buy a heater, buy the absolute best: heater failure can endanger your house as well as your tank. THat's the place where water and electricity mix most directly in this hobby.


New member
I ended up with a ATI Sunpower 48" 6x54 with a KZ fiji purple ,KZ coral light ll new gen, 2 ATI true antinic, ATI true blue, 2 ATI aquablue special.