We all know how expensive taking the dive into saltwater can be. Start up costs alone will average $50.00 to $75.00 per gallon depending on the type of set up you have decided on building. I'm writing this to help give you some ideas that will help you save a few dollars. RESEARCH AND PATIENCE These two are the biggest money savers you will come across in this end of the hobby. The former a little more than the latter. They are the tie that binds everything from equipment to livestock together. I see so many new comers join forums with "panic posts" because they have made an impulse buy and it backfired. Impulse is a money shredder in this hobby and many people have learned that lesson the hard way. Research begins when the decision is made to start a tank and in my experience is never ending. The motto "Take it slow, let it grow" is simple, straight to the point and very true. This hobby demands patience and without it you are setting yourself up for a lot of frustration and a very expensive crash. BUY RIGHT THE FIRST TIME When you've made your decision, done your research and are ready to begin buying the pieces to make your dream a reality you will save possibly hundreds of dollars by purchasing the right equipment from the beginning. Lighting and Protein Skimmers are the two most important pieces of hardware for a successful reef in my opinion. I believe that fully and feel that even if you are building a fish only or a fish only with live rock now but have plans to change to a reef in the future you should still spend the extra dollars now for the lighting and skimmer that meets the requirements of your future build plans. Why spend $60.00 on a 2 bulb T5 now and turn around a month or a year later and spend another $300-$700 on a new fixture. In my opinion do it now and do it once. Filtration isn't quite as important because even if you choose a HOB or Canister filter now and plan on installing a sump later you can still use either to run carbon, gfo and to "polish" your water. A HIGH PRICE TAG DOESN'T = QUALITY In all cases. There is a lot of equipment on the market and it gets confusing knowing or deciding what brand to use. Research helps a lot here. Customer reviews are helpful but I always take them with a grain of salt because I've found a lot of negative reviews are due to user error or incorrect use/modification of the equipment and then blame the company for selling crap. There are quite a few companies on the market that are sincerely hobbiest first based and provide quality equipment at inexpensive costs. Eshopps is a very good example of this type of company. Current USA is another. Both opinions come not only from personal experience but trusted information I've read from other users. SHOP! SHOP! SHOP! Ebay, Craig's List and Google can be your best friends. Used equipment that is in good condition is exactly the same equipment that you'll get brand new. True you won't have the warranty but the money you will save makes up for that in my opinion. Here's is a personal example of this. I needed a skimmer for my mantis build and began scouring the net looking for the best deal I could find. After a week or so I found a brand new Eshopps PSK-100H on Ebay, starting bid .99. It was a customer return that was reportedly leaking and the pump was reported to be bad. I made sure it wasn't leaking from cracked acrylic then I went a head and bid on on it with a max of $20.00 figuring if I did win and had to replace O-rings and a pump I'd still be ahead considering this skimmer retails for $159.99 + shipping. I did win it, for $19.49 + $13.02 shipping. When I got it I set it up on a bucket of water to find the leak and test the pump. I found the leak which was coming from incorrect assembly of the pump intake and was also why the pump wasn't "working". After easily correcting the issues I have a brand new skimmer for $32.51. These pic's are during break-in less than 24 hours after set up. DO IT YOURSELF With a little skill and ingenuity a lot of money can be saved by simply building equipment with stuff you either have on hand or can buy cheaply from your local hardware store. You want a sump but cant afford a pre-fabbed model..There are dozens of ways to DIY a sump and here is another way Google becomes your best friend. I use an AGA 10 gallon with glass baffles that I siliconed into place myself. The total cost was under $20. I've seen sumps built with two rubbermaid totes, one inside the other to provied a place for a fuge and equipment. All that a sump is really is a place to get unsightly equipment out of your display. The same can be said for fuge's. In the beginning mine was out of sight so I used a 20 gallon Rubbermaid tote. I DIY my own filter socks out of 100% wool felt. I even made a tube type pest trap for removing bristleworms that I feel are getting to big for my display. DIY can save you money but be warned that it can also end up costing you more than you would pay by simply buying manufactured items. But it's definitely something to look into. CORALS Here is a big money saver but it demands that you research and practice patience. We all want the beautiful full reefs we see posted by others that have been in the hobby for a long time. That isn't going to happen overnight or in a few months. You could spend literally hundreds of dollars buying coral colonies to fill up your reef and some do...... but why? With good practiced patience and a little research you can fully stock your aquarium with every coral you can keep for a fraction of the cost of buying colonies online. The answer is buying frags from other forum members, reef clubs, forum sponsor deals, etc. If you spend the time to shop around you will be amazed at the deals you will find. I have saved myself hundreds by purchasing frags from reef club members, forum members and Ebay auctions from reputable vendors and sponsors of this forum. I enjoy watching the frags grow into colonies. I could go on but I'll stop here. I hope I've provide you with some ideas about how to save money without cutting quality.