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Beginner Coral Help?

Fish Swim A Lot

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Hi! I'm new on here, I've been wanting to make an account for a while but just never got around to it, and I figured this question would be a good reason to make one!

I have a 37G saltwater fish tank with only dry rock, but it just looks so ugly. I want some more life in it, and so I started to research how to add corals/anemones, but all of the different information floating out there was a bit overwhelming. I'm on a pretty tight budget, and was wondering what the cheapest lighting system for low-light beginner corals is, and where I could purchase it and the corals? Also, are there any marine plants that I could get without having to change my basic tank lights that would also look good?

Tl;dr Basically, I just need some advice on how to start a beginner level reef in my 37g tank for the least amount of money possible so that it could look prettier.
 

Toney

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One of those beam works or aquaneat lights would probably work and they are cheap.
 

gmc1

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I have had good results from my aqualantis led day and tmc aquaray reef blue at night.
Good corals to start with are lps corals if you aren't running carbon etc.
What equipment do you have at the moment
 

gmc1

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Have a look at my reef journal for the corals etc
 
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Fish Swim A Lot

Fish Swim A Lot

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I have had good results from my aqualantis led day and tmc aquaray reef blue at night.
Good corals to start with are lps corals if you aren't running carbon etc.
What equipment do you have at the moment
At the moment, practically nothing. The basic filter that came with the aquarium, a cheap heater, and an airstone. Some sand substrate, lots of dry rocks aaaaand that's it, which is why I aim to add more life into the tank other than the fishies.
 

Donya

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When you say "dry rock," what does that mean? Did you buy any live rock to seed it with to establish fauna and biological filtration? What's the tank stocked with right now, or did you just set it up? If it's brand new with mostly dry/dead rock, it'll be quite some time before it's safe to add corals. Marine tanks started from scratch with mostly dead rock take a long time to turn into interesting and stable ecosystems.

Regarding lights, I will repeat the usual recommendation: go high end if you can so you aren't tempted to try keeping fancier corals under inappropriate conditions down the line. Mid-to-high-end LEDs are another way to make tanks look nice, since a lot of the fancier ones can be controlled by phone now. I have an AI Prime on my 20gal reef that lets me set sunrise/sunset and tweak the colors exactly how I want from my phone.

However, to follow up the fancy light recommendation, prior to getting that AI Prime I was a long-time keeper of basic corals under basic lights - I just didn't go bonkers with crazy colorful sensitive species. I have grown a lot of low-end soft corals with the Fluval Reef Performance LED strip in various sizes on various tanks. I used it to grow things like kenya trees, toadstool mushrooms, and xenia. Those did well enough that I was taking frags to trade at the shop monthly. Two things to keep in mind with lower end lights: (1) your corals won't show lots of metallic colors, so you'll have a lot of brown and pink and if you get fancy ones they will fade to brown/pink, and (2) if you suddenly get bitten by the more demanding coral bug, you'll have to fork out for better lights and can't force it to work with the cheap ones. Another alternative is 2xT5 and 4xT5 strips (4x = can keep more demanding corals), which are a fairly cheap way to go to get better coral color and more diversity, since you can customize the spectrum with different and betterbulbs. The problem with T5s is they make a lot of heat and you have to replace the bulbs regularly, so there is a long-term maintenance cost that doesn't exist for LEDs.

As far as plants, you may want to look into macro algaes, but do so with caution. I currently grow Caulerpa in my 20gal reef tank, and it's got a great mini seaweed forest look going on as a backdrop behind the corals, but I have to trim it weekly and every so often it will spores into the tank, and there's no way to fully prevent those events with the larger, ornamental macro algaes. Sudden dieoffs and spore releases can be a serious nutrient/oxygen problem for tanks that aren't set up to handle it; my tank has a lot of filter feeders that slurp it up in a couple hours - but in other tanks it can take days and several WCs. Usually the safer macroalgaes like Chaetomorpha are used in refugiums for nutrient export (chaeto looks like a big ball of green spaghetti...not exactly a tank beautifier).
 

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