Well, then 50 gallons it is! (unless you want to get like a 120 and make the 50 a sump.
I looked at sumps and all the LFS
wanted like $300. Instead, I got a $50 29-gallon tank and had baffles cut at Tap Plastics for $13 and paid $6 for a tube of all-glass silicone--I just glued the baffles in tonight and it took about 20 minutes. And I'm completely inept at DIY
. So far, so good. (I was scared of DIY
and the good folks on this board talked me into it.)
I got a Euroreef ES5-3 skimmer for $215. From all accounts, Euroreef is a very good brand. I haven't seen anyone dis it, at least.
Water testing--you'll get a different answer from everyone. I think people get into a routine that works for them and stick to it. Me, I test ammonia and nitrite every day in a new tank or a tank that's going through a mini-cycle (like if you add a new fish). I start testing for nitrates as soon as the nitrites start to drop. I do water changes on a new tank as often as every day if needed to keep the ammonia under .25. (All that testing and water changing aren't really needed in a tank with just LR
--no fish. I'm just weird and want to keep as much alive on the LR
as possible. Lots of people don't do any changes at all until the cycle is done.) On a stable tank--I test once a week and change 25% a week on my 20 gallon QT
I don't know if you have any FW
experience, but most SW
keepers adovate a fishless cycle (LR
and/or raw shrimp).
Like Malkore said, every tank's stocking level will be different--generally, the lighter the better. People with lots of corals might only keep 2-3 small fish in a 50 gallon. Realistically, you're probably looking at 4, maybe five smallish fish. A 50 will eliminate the tangs, basically, and a lot of other kinds of fish. Some random possibilities: pair of clowns, royal gramma, gobies, firefish, dwarf angel, fairy wrasse . . . hm, those seem to be the fish I'm considering for my 75!
Anyway, Scott Michaels' Marine Fish (hope I have that right) is a great book for fish research.
I know that's a long message, but since you PM'ed me I wanted to try and be thorough. HTH
tank with 29-gallon sump
2x Maxijet powerheads
Mag drive 9 return
Coralife 4x65 Lunar Aqualight
120 lbs rock from liverocks.com
1 peppermint shrimp and 1 fire shrimp (very shy)
2 black Ocellaris, Squish and Smudge
3 chromis, too identical to name as yet, in QT
29-gallon with two goldies, Carrot and Orangehead