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5ft vs 6ft long – is it a major difference?

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Hi fellow reefers,

I've got quite an experience with freshwater planted tanks, including larger system with a sump like setup, a very high PAR tanks with no algae issues (with precise nutrient & water chemistry control), complex filtration etc., and now I feel kinda ready for a saltwater setup.

This is supposed to be a mixed reef where I plan to start with some easiest species and gradually evolve it as I learn more to more delicate fishes & LPS & SPS over a few years time.

The question for this topic is whether I should got with a 5x2x2 ft tank which is much more convenient space wise, or shall I squeeze in 6x2x2 ft if it will offer much more flexibility in the future. I'm reading contradictory advices, some folks say 5 ft vs 6 ft is a huge difference, some say it's more or less the same. 5 ft fits perfectly in my room, 6 ft is a tight fit, but I'd go for it is it is a real difference. I'm just planning as of now, nothing is bought yet, so other dimension suggestions are also welcome.



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Price wise I'm ok with either. The question is more about stocking options (but any other considerations welcome) 

Is there anything I would be comfortable keeping in 6ft but not in 5ft?

I heard about some tangs that are supposedly fine in 6ft but quite a stretch in 5ft. 

The problem is that I have zero experience keeping marine tank, and while some of my freshwater experience equally applies in marine, some is completely useless. This includes the stocking options. 

My main goal here is to avoid some mistakes that will require costly fixing a year or two down the road, that's why I consider 6ft even if it takes up more space in my living room than I wanted to (5ft is perfect there). 


Edit: I'll definitely automate both dosing and RO/DI top up, I've got lots of experience in that area, so I'm not really sure 6ft parameters will any more stable than 5ft. More likely that the difference will be difficult if at all possible to measure. 

Edited by Max M
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A bigger tank gives you more opportunities,  but also give you more challenges. 


More space to stock corals

Marginally more fishes 

Slightly better buffer against fluctuations 


More costly to light 

More difficult to ensure good flow throughout the tank

More time for maintenance 


IMO both will work well. What's more important is that you start with most demanding livestock in mind. For example,  if you were to under-provide the flow,  you may do ok with softies and lps.  However,  if you choose to start keeping sps and realise you need to upgrade, a tight space around your tank may become a costly constrain. 

What I mean is,  you can start with Hardy livestocks, but make provisions and plans to fullfill the need of delicate livestocks now


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If 5 is more comfortable for u, go for it. Honestly not too much difference in the Reefing experience except for what jiaen mentioned. But if you have always wanted the 6, no point upgrading later on and spending tons more money and time. And honestly, it’s hard to tell the difference at a glance. It’s just an extra 10% or so more water. Ps you’ll soon realise how expensive stocking a 5/6 is 🤣

Sent from Singapore Reef Club mobile app

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Thanks all,

I understand it's a controversial topic but would still like to check what are the opinions here :) I'm reading in many places that anything shorter than 6ft is a definite no-go for any tangs. What are the people's experiences here?

Separately, does width x depth of 24x24in sounds about optimal? I feel it could be a bit too deep to comfortably do the maintenance, perhaps 22" deep would be easier.

PS I do realize the stocking will add up in the bill, but so will be the tank itself (looking for the low iron glass rimless which is expensive at that size), good lights won't be cheap either. So I'm mentally prepared for that.

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You’d be surprise to see people keeping tangs in a 2ft tank here. 5-6ft definitely not a problem, big enough to keep a show sized tang.

I have a 6ft tank, and don’t regret it at all. The equipments(Wavemakers, pumps, skimmer) you get for a 5ft tank can be used for a 6ft without a doubt. The only difference I can think of is the additional lighting needed.

As for the depth, you’re right that 22inch would be easier to maintain, especially if it’s eurobraced. 24inch width is optimal, but if you have the space to go wider, I would go for it. Makes scaping a lot easier.

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It's going to be a rimless one. Is 22" still preferable in your opinion?

I think I could go a few in wider than 24. How much wider is still reasonable?

I understand everyone have their own opinions, and people could disagree which is normal. Just trying to collect more data...

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