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post #1 of (permalink) Old 06-05-2019, 06:53 AM Thread Starter
Algae Grower
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Advice allocating $1k budget for new tank?

I've had a 20gal planted tank for about 5 years, and now that I graduated college I'm looking to upgrade. I'm thinking something in the range of 40-60gal would be about right, and I'm leaning toward the 40 breeder because I like the footprint (36" long x 18" wide x 17" tall).

Whereas my current tank has been a budget, low-tech build (Beamswork light, DIY CO2, HOB filter, etc.), I'd like to have a nicer setup with my new tank. Living with a pair of Kessils on a reef tank has spoiled me, and I'd really like programmable, dimmable lighting for my planted tank. Also, I want to be able to grow carpeting plants in this new tank. (It would be nice if my Downoi would grow together better.)

I'm budgeting $1000 to the hardware costs, although cheaper is always better. Right now I've allocated:
  • Filter: $157
  • Heater: $57
  • Leak detector: $26
  • Substrate: $7
  • DIY auto-doser: ~$50

That adds to ~$300, leaving $700 for the tank itself, stand, lights, and CO2 system (if I don't just continue DIY CO2).

I've been throwing around a few options for lighting, and IMO it pretty much boils down to the Current USA Satellite Plus Pro ($171) and the AI Prime HD Freshwater ($210/ea; probably would need two). (If you have any other dimmable, controllable lights in my budget, I'd love to hear your suggestions.)

I was thinking of snagging a 40 breeder during a PetCo $1/gallon sale for $40, buying their metal stand for $50, and splurging by getting a pair of AI Prime HD Freshwater lights ($220/ea). That brings the total to just over $800, leaving some room to spare.

However, the more I think about it, the more I realize a rimless tank and/or one with low-iron glass would be really nice. Unfortunately, they're way more expensive and significantly cut into the budget for the lights. For example, Glass Cages' 40 breeder (which I guess they call a "50 tall"?) runs $380. If I want to add low-iron glass to the front, that bumps it up to $430. That's over 1000% the cost of the PetCo tank.

Assuming I were to go that route, I'd have $270 left. Say $50 for the aforementioned stand, and the Satellite Pro (or one AI Prime, but I don't think that would be enough) would juuust squeak under my budget.

How would you guys prioritize here? Am I better off with the cheaper light and the better tank? The better lights and the PetCo tank? Or are both overkill, and I should get the cheaper light and the cheaper tank?

My other decisions (filter, heater, even tank size) are open to critique too - tell me how you'd spend my money.
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