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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, new to the forum, getting back in to the aquarium hobby...

I am going to buy a ~20-30 gal aquarium and am wondering what the best purchase options are. Are the kits offered at stores a good deal or are you better off hand picking each of the features individually?

Also, when I was into this many years ago I had both an undergravel filtration system as well as the external (the kind that hangs off the side of the tank). I have recently become aware of the canister filter types. Is there a great different between these? I gather a canister is the 'Cadillac' of set-ups, but is it necessary for a tank the size of what I am talking about?

Are their any other 'features' I should start with other than the basics? I was planning to start with;

Tank (glass, unless acrylic is significantly better)
Some filtration system (see above)
Decoration/hiding places, probably no live plants to start
Base gravel
Aquarium salt
Necessary water conditioners
Heater
Thermometer
And of course fish (just a couple to start)

Thanks for any input, opinion, info resources, etc you are able to provide.

I'm excited to get back into the hobby. It has been many years, I have 2 young kids now, and look forward to letting them learn and experience from the aquarium.
 

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My guess would be that the purchase of a kit is a personal one. For myself, I found a certain filter that I just had to have and a certain brand I was sticking with for heaters. So I purchased everything separately.

I have a hang on back for my 20 gallon and it works great. I think canisters a mostly used for larger tanks, but don't quote me on that :) I another words, I believe a HOB (hang on back) filter will do the job perfect for the size tanks you're looking at.

Invest in a great LIQUID test kit...please don't use the test strips, they are inaccurate. I personally use API Mater Test Kit.

Best of luck! Post pics when it gets set up!
 

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I dont care for the kits so just buy the tank you like and then finish with the equipment you decide on. I agree that a HOB filter will work fine on the smaller tanks.
I will suggest the Aqua Clear filters unless you decide on a canister then I would look into the Fluval's or Eheim's
the salt isnt needed IMO
I only use peat pellets in my cannister filters and no other conditioners
Quality heater I like the Marineland Stealth heaters
Dont use the stick on thermometers get a glass one or a digital thermometer
I know some of these items may be a little pricey but you wont regret getting them in my opinion oh and enjoy the hobby :)
 

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I use aqua clears and swore by them, I still run them but in conjunction with a magnum 350 canister now. the AC's are precious to me, they ALWAYS work and offer the most versatility of all the filters out there as far as customizing to fit YOUR specific needs.

The kits arent bad, Ive boughten a few and the products arent bad, I prefer topfin over petco's brand for filters and heaters but shop around first, you can get great prices online for the hardware just get the tank off craigslist or a pet shop sale. never pay retail for a glass box.
 

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I like hand picking myself , but it's up to you . I have always used HOB filters for my 30 gals. and they have worked out beautifully . I use a Marineland Penguin 350B and never had the first problem's out of them .

If you can get a REALLY great deal on a kit . You can use what you want out of it and replace the other things with more quality equipment and save what came in the kit for "emergencies" . Say it's a long holiday weekend and your good heater or filter goes out , you can use the cheap one that came with the kit until your local LFS is open .

The thing I hate to see in pet stores and wally world is those 5 and 10 gal complete starter kits . People think that smaller tanks are great to learn on not realizing that the smaller aquarium the quicker and easier that problems can occur . I always tell friends when asked to get the biggest aquarium they have room for and can afford .
 

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Bigger is ALWAYS better in the aquarium world. This is the fat girlfriend you can show off to mom and dad and your friends without the high school bull that comes with it.

The larger the tank the easier it is to maintain.

A 20g starter tank is good, 40 is better but 20 is good. I started my 2nd fish keeping life with a 28g bowfront and added many more bigger and smaller to the living room( till wife went nuts on me and started draining them herself to get them out of there,anyways) I find my larger ones can be put off a little longer then the smaller ones when it comes to maintence, and my larger tanks have cycled alot more complete then my smaller tanks.
 

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Kits are good to get you started, but you're going to want to swap the filter out (I started with the Wal-Mart 55 gallon kit & quickly realized that the filter was useless so I went with an Aquaclear 110/500).

For a 30 gallon tank I would suggest at a minimum you go with an Aqua-clear 70 gallon.

Even if you throw the filter out, the rest of the parts in the kit (hoods, lights, heater, thermometer, etc) still end up being cheaper than if you pieced them together separately.
 

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First thing I always do is check Craigs List. Every day you can find 55G tanks complete for around $100.00. I would bet you could find a 20 or 29 gallon up and running for a lot cheaper then a new kit. It might take some cleaning but to me it's worth time to save some money. I recently bought a 120 gallon with stand, NEW glass tops, and two hoods/lights for $200.00. Would have cost three times that if I bought new.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Craigslist is an option I had not considered, but I will take a look. Anything specific I should look aout for in a used aquarium? I assume most damage would be obvious. If it is not set-up how do I test for leaks? just ask them to fill it up for me?

Are there any issues that would be show stoppers?

Thanks again for all of the input. Great forum.
 

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Bigger is ALWAYS better in the aquarium world. This is the fat girlfriend you can show off to mom and dad and your friends without the high school bull that comes with it.
.

Thanks , I almost ruined my laptop ! I had a mouth full of coffee when I read this ! *r2
 

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Craigslist is an option I had not considered, but I will take a look. Anything specific I should look aout for in a used aquarium? I assume most damage would be obvious. If it is not set-up how do I test for leaks? just ask them to fill it up for me?

Are there any issues that would be show stoppers?

Thanks again for all of the input. Great forum.
You need to ask them if it was used for reptiles or fish.
You need to look for scratches.
You need to look at the seals to see if they appear intact.

I doubt someone is going to fill a tank to demonstrate it for you - especially in the middle of winter. I sold a tank on craigslist & have another one up for sale - it's not worth the time & energy to fill & drain the tank for someone - craigslist gets enough traffic so I can just wait for the next guy for an easier sale.
 

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Yes, make sure nothing other then fish were in the tank. anything else well the urine and poo get into the sealant and the ammonia issues that follow wouldnt feasably be worth the time and effort less money invested, ask them to fill the tank or have it full of water when you come to pick it up.

scratches are ehh they dont bother me as its not a brand new tank its used from craigslist usually. scratches on the outside can be easily fixed within an hour if you get the right stuff to do it( glass is glass it is repairable the same way as any other glass, paste and buff with certain pads and creams to get it fixed.

I ALWAYS have the tanks full of water and use a CHEAP bilge pump to evacuate the tank quick, figure it took me longer to fill the 55 I sold a year or so back then it did to get it out @ 700gph pump rate.

Id stay away from old salt water tanks as some Ive seen have a ton of salt caked under the trim that does come in contact with water and is very hard to clean unless you pop the trim off.


For the other posters, Im a simple man I think simple and put things simply, and no I am not liable for lost electronics when reading some of the stuff that comes out of my head. Sorry but this aint walmart, my customer service center blew up.

ALSO id stay away from turtle tanks and frog tanks as they produce the same form of urine and poo as reptiles and small animals do.

I dont think you will find a problem filling a tank outside in the middle of a deep south winter(excluding this year, blame the canadians its their air according to chicago weathermen)
 

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I know, in 99 I was at Ft. Jackson, South Cakalaki , at 5am when we were running for no good reason(nothing was chasing us) it snowed, and well snowed and snowed for 2 hours, total of 5 inches, by the time we got out of morning chow it was all gone and the forecast high was in the 80's, I cant tell the difference once 80 degrees hits in the south with the humidity.

Dont feel bad, in chicago we are celebrating (and wearing shorts)that its above 32. heck the past two days its been above 10. Slept with the window open last night, 19 degrees is alot warmer then -30 below.
 

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Wearing shorts and having the window open in 19 degree weather...

I don't see how you guys do it!!! Last year we had a significant snow (1" *r2)
and schools closed! We don't see stuff like that often so the kids were excited. I've experienced more hurricanes in my lifetime than snow; and I'm only 25!
 

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Wearing shorts and having the window open in 19 degree weather...

I don't see how you guys do it!!! Last year we had a significant snow (1" *r2)
and schools closed! We don't see stuff like that often so the kids were excited. I've experienced more hurricanes in my lifetime than snow; and I'm only 25!
Here's what we had right before X-Mas;







 

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kits are significantly cheaper. buy a kit, since you're just starting off - and as you gain experience you can buy bigger tanks and accessories. don't buy fish until two weeks after you have your tank cycling, unless you're doing a cycle with fish - which then i recommend platty's or some type of hardy fish.

canisters are a better filtration system, but people have their own opinions. you could have two 50g(gallon) filters rather than one 100g canister, for a cheaper price..

UGFs(Under-gravel Filters) are obsolete now, since all you need to do is buy a bigger filter for you tank. example: for a 20g, i usually hear/read people recommend either a 30g or 50g filter. although you can still use it though, if you're using a small tank with an average filter (10g tank with a 10g filter) it helps a little..
 
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