Go with a 75 gallon over a 60, and definitely choose a "reef ready" tank.
You will need a sump that will fit inside the stand, unless you would like to display it next to the tank. A "20 long" aquarium is about the biggest you can fit in the stand of a 75 gallon tank. The sump will have to be partitioned depending on what you want in it. If you plan on a refugium, you will need to separate it into 3 sections. The first being an intake area where you will have a filter sock and your protein skimmer, the second your refugium area if you go that route, and the third section your return area. You will need to glue in partitions to do this. I would take the aquarium to a local glass shop and have them cut them for you so they are precise. It shouldn't cost much.
The watts per gallon rule is useless when speaking in terms of LED
, and not all LED
fixtures are created equal, and cannot be judged by wattage alone. You'll have to decide what you are willing to spend for lighting, and what options you want this lighting to have. You can light a 75 gallon for $200.00 and up.
I don't use canister filters so I don't recommend them. I find them unnecessary. Nitrate and or phosphate removing material in my opinion is just a band aid, removing symptoms of a nutrient issue, instead of correcting the issue. I prefer figuring out the source and correcting it, by changing food, or salt mix, or increasing flow...
You will need a heater, or better yet 2 smaller heaters for redundancy. If one goes out, the other will still heat until you spot the problem. Or, if one gets stuck on, it won't cook the tank before you can spot the problem. I would put one behind the rock in the display, and the other in the sump. this way if your return pump fails, you still have the display heated until you correct it.
You will need 75-100 pounds of rock. This will act as your nitrate reducing filtration. You can use "live rock" from the ocean or completely dry, man-made rock. Either will work. Some folks like dry rock to be sure you get no harmful hitch hikers from the ocean. I prefer live rock because I find the hitch hikers fascinating, and part of the ecosystem.
Substrate is optional. I like an inch or so of aragonite based sand on the bottom, for extra surface area for bacteria, and for some critters to live in. Also, white sand is reflective and helps lighting shadowed areas.
A protein skimmer is a good way to remove excess nutrients, and aerate the water. I would choose a skimmer rated for 1.5 to 2 times your total system volume. In my experience, manufacturers loosely rate their shimmers and many of the recommended skimmers are underpowered. The correct way to choose a skimmer is by air intake. The manufacturer should have the LPH (liters per hour) of air the pump pulls listed. I would shoot for a skimmer that pulls close to 1000lph.
Flow inside the tank should be achieved by the use of power heads. Effective power heads can be as cheap as 70 bucks and as expensive as 400+. It's all about how many "bells and whistles" you want. Either end of the spectrum will do the job.
Test kits. You'll need the API "reef master" test kit, and also Salifert alkalinity and salifert calcium kits. API's kit isn't very accurate for those things.
Lastly, your return pump. For a 75, you could use something 700-1200 gph
. danner mag drives and Eheim are good quality. I have had good luck with Lifeguard Aquatics Quiet One pumps as well.