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I want a 4 tank system, 2 for redclaw, and 2 for tilapia.  However I will be starting with goldfish and crayfish to learn the basics.  I have been looking at these totes from walmart, for a month or so and have no idea if they would be safe for the fish.  Would I need to also get pond liner, is there a better alternative? Space / price is a issue.

Sterilite 50 Gallon Tote Box- Titanium, Set of 4

 

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Chances are the they are safe for the fish. MikeH is right though, unless you plan on scrapping the system before you add the red claws, American crawfish shouldn't be an option. As far as goldfish go, I use them to start off any new system. They make the same as ammonia as the tilapia will and they are a lot cheaper and more readily available. My first system was a 30 gallon tote for a fish tank, with another 30 gallon sump tote. It fed 2 3'x2'x7" totes. It ran for almost a year with very few flaws. Later on, I used that aged water to kick off a much larger system. 

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