If there is one thing we say all around the shop at Advanced Aquatics RVA, it is that foundation is key. You will not have a successful reef without a proper foundation to build on. If you have a desire to enter the hobby and want to cut corners, let me save you some time and inform you not to try at all.
Reef tanks take time, effort and MONEY! A general gauge to go off of is $100 per gallon. Yes, that is right. A 10 gallon nano tank will cost you $1000 to get going. Don't believe me?
Let's crunch the numbers...
10g IM nano - $250
AI Prime - $230
Salt - $20
Rock - $50
Test Kits - $250
2 clownfish - $50
ATO - $230
...would you look at that! We are already past the $1000 mark and you do not even have corals yet! Not to mention, I skipped over a lot of key pieces of equipment you would want to have in the future.
I bring up the numbers to emphasize the importance of doing things right the first time. That may be why you hear us asking a lot of questions before answering what type of equipment, coral, etc. you need for your tank. Your foundation and what you want to do matters! Mistakes in this hobby are painful and we want to avoid that at all costs (ha ha get it?). So if it is a FOWLR, mixed reef or just a softie tank, we want to know!
So do yourself a favor and research the best of the best for your needs. Get the proper skimmer, light, salt, and wavemakers that you need because down the road, you are going to wish you had. No one likes an ugly tank and this hobby is too beautiful not to show off to the world.