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Old 12-13-2015, 12:14 AM
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Default Budget doesn't exist in this hobby: Brian's 45g Build

Hey guys, I'm Brian and completely new to owning an aquarium. Recently moved back to Vancouver from Ontario and kind of spontaneously decided to finally start up a mini reef. I have been looking into starting one up and researching from time to time for the past couple years but the cost of starting a tank always deterred me from committing. Couple of weeks ago someone parked on the side of the road opened their door without looking and smashed my mirror off my car. They decided not to go through insurance and paid me $600 which was the quote for repair. Managed to find one for $100 from a scrap yard and had some extra cash So I thought what better time to look into starting a mini reef again.

I was just casually browsing through craigslist last week and found a brand new 20g tank for $20 and thought that's a really good price so I'll just buy it and store it until I end up using it for a tank one day. After that, I was just browsing on the forums here and saw a 29g for sale for $20 as well so I actually just decided to buy that too I went over to user Galizio's house to pick it up and that was the first time I've actually seen a mini reef in real life. It was so much more beautiful from what I have seen in videos and I was completely blown away. His tank was absolutely stunning and this was the moment when I knew I was committed. So now I have 2 tanks and don't really have a plan just yet. I might sell off the 20g or end up using it as a sump.

I say this will be a budget build but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be cheap. I guess cheap is a relative word but in general I don't really like using just the cheapest product available especially in something like a mini reef where quality of equipment will matter. When I say budget I will mean that I will try to get the best performance I can while keeping the cost as low as possible by either buying used items or fabricating my own stuff. So I will be documenting how much I've spent as I go to perhaps give other new reefers a sense of the cost of starting up a reef from complete scratch.

For now I guess I have some planning to do ahead of me and will be sitting in front of my computer looking for some good deals for the next while. If anyone has suggestions or tips as I go don't hesitate to let me know. Any help will be appreciated as I have never tried something like this before.

Total cost so far: $40

Here are the tanks


The 29g I will be using for the main tank that I got from Galizio
It had black silicon which I thought looked nicer than just clear


Finally, the 20g I might end up using as the sump.
It came with a metal mesh top which fits the 29g width-wise as well so I might cut it in half later and use it on the 29g

Last edited by Myka; 01-12-2016 at 11:46 PM.
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Old 12-13-2015, 12:49 AM
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Welcome to the addiction!

I think that's a great idea to use the 29-gallon for the main tank and the 20-gallon for the sump. Now you need to build a stand to hold them. You won't be able to use that metal mesh lid though as it will rust very quickly.
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Old 12-13-2015, 01:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Myka View Post
Welcome to the addiction!

I think that's a great idea to use the 29-gallon for the main tank and the 20-gallon for the sump. Now you need to build a stand to hold them. You won't be able to use that metal mesh lid though as it will rust very quickly.
Thanks for the welcome!
Yup, been scanning craigslist for a suitable stand or design one from scratch. Could I spray on some coats of protective paint or still no good?
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Old 12-13-2015, 03:25 AM
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No, paint will peel fast and you'll get rust. If you need a lid, use mesh with an aluminum frame you can make from window parts at Home Depot.
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Old 12-13-2015, 03:40 AM
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No, paint will peel fast and you'll get rust. If you need a lid, use mesh with an aluminum frame you can make from window parts at Home Depot.
Got it, I'll see if I need a screen. I guess that'll depend on what livestock I go with. Was just gonna try to make use of it since it came with the tank but guess not. Thanks for the tip! I'll definitely try to fabricate one if need be
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Old 12-13-2015, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Etaloche View Post
Yup, been scanning craigslist for a suitable stand or design one from scratch.
Yeah, for a smaller tank like that, just look for a nice household cabinet. You can always reinforce it by adding some 2x2" or 2x3" to the inside. Just make sure it's tall enough for a skimmer to sit in the sump and be able to work comfortably in there.
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Old 12-14-2015, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
Yeah, for a smaller tank like that, just look for a nice household cabinet. You can always reinforce it by adding some 2x2" or 2x3" to the inside. Just make sure it's tall enough for a skimmer to sit in the sump and be able to work comfortably in there.
Went to go look at a couple cabinets today.

I want to put the tank under this shelf I have in my room but hard to find one that will fit under nicely with the tank.
This is where the tank will be going. Don't mind the mess I just cleaned the shelf off to get a better idea of how I wanted the tank set up underneath



This was the best one, solid oak and fit perfectly where I wanted it.
Unfortunately I couldn't negotiate the price under $60 which was more than I was willing to pay at this moment.





Will be going to look at this one tomorrow. Also oak, doesn't look as sturdy but will probably get the job done. I'll see when I go look at it tomorrow. This one is listed for $20 so my hopes are up. Little bit less storage space but as you said as long as there's enough room for a skimmer and work it should be good.



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Old 12-14-2015, 01:37 PM
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I see a backpack, are you a student?

First of all, do you have any tools available to work with? Circular saw? Drill?

The first one is pine, not oak. It looks to be a really good option. You could paint it white or the wall color to match the house trim or walls and it would look pretty sharp. I'd probably pop the boards off the back of it and replace that with 1/2" plywood. You're right though, $60 is too much.

The second one I wouldn't be comfortable putting a 29-gallon tank on top of it as it is. It appears like it would collapse sideways fairly easily. I would remove the lower backing, and put a single backing of 1/2" plywood covering the whole thing. I'd also check under it to see what's supporting the "floor" inside the cabinet. What's the inside measurement from the floor to the shelf? It looks pretty short.

The reason I suggest plywood is because it's one solid piece, and if you tack it on all the way around with nails or screws every 6-8" it adds a significant amount of reinforcement preventing the cabinet from leaning one way or the other and collapsing.
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Last edited by Myka; 12-14-2015 at 01:39 PM.
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Old 12-14-2015, 06:10 PM
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Yes I am indeed, I'm attending BCIT for mechanical engineering right now.

I do have some tools, I also have access to the machine shops at school. For more specialized tools I was going to start asking local reefers if they could lend me a hand when the time comes. I'm sure my school will have more than enough tools for my needs though.

I never knew shopping for furniture would be so difficult and expensive to get just the one you want. I'll usually spend about 2 days max looking for something online and picking it up, but 4 days of searching for the right cabinet and still nothing...

Once I have a cabinet in my possession I'll start to look into ways to strengthen it for sure. Have you built a stand from scratch? What is the rough estimate cost of the 2x4s and plywood altogether? I want to spend just about as much as it would cost to build one. Another couple of days and if I can't find something to my liking I might just hit up the hardware store and DIY it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myka View Post
I see a backpack, are you a student?

First of all, do you have any tools available to work with? Circular saw? Drill?

The first one is pine, not oak. It looks to be a really good option. You could paint it white or the wall color to match the house trim or walls and it would look pretty sharp. I'd probably pop the boards off the back of it and replace that with 1/2" plywood. You're right though, $60 is too much.

The second one I wouldn't be comfortable putting a 29-gallon tank on top of it as it is. It appears like it would collapse sideways fairly easily. I would remove the lower backing, and put a single backing of 1/2" plywood covering the whole thing. I'd also check under it to see what's supporting the "floor" inside the cabinet. What's the inside measurement from the floor to the shelf? It looks pretty short.

The reason I suggest plywood is because it's one solid piece, and if you tack it on all the way around with nails or screws every 6-8" it adds a significant amount of reinforcement preventing the cabinet from leaning one way or the other and collapsing.
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Old 12-14-2015, 06:46 PM
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Lots of members here build their own stands. Just scroll through the Tank Journal forum. You can spend as little as nothing, if you have material lying around, or hundreds to thousands depending on many factors including welded metal frames, or fancy millwork. In your case, I'd expect you would spend $60 at least on materials at Home Depot etc. Buying a used piece of furnature and reinforcing it as Myka suggested is the best way when on a budget.
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