Ok I'm by no means an expert as you know
Bigger is better in saltwater, there's more room for error. Smaller tank and things can go bad fast.
Now again what I can tell you is based on my own experience and knowledge, hopefully the more seasoned saltys will chime in.
I happen to like the all in one tanks like the BC29 or the JBJ's etc... Also just to add my friend has a very nice 10 gallon tank with a power head and a aquaclear 110. I'll post pics when he sends them. You won't believe it's a 10 gallon!
So back on track. You'll need a power head or power heads depending on flow. You can get power heads from Koralia, Tunze or even Aqueon or go with a really nice unit like the MP10 which is much more then a power head IMO
You can use a 10 gallon and still have a nice set up IMO
am use it to get your feet wet so to speak. And when your comfortably you can always upgrade. The choice is yours.
You'll need a RO
unit for making your salt water. I happen to get it pre mixed from a friend.
Your going to want a refractometer also so you can test your salinity.
Your gonna need a saltwater test kit. API or the more expensive BUT more reliable one Salifert kits.
Live rock also. Your gonna want some. You need all live rock but I believe some is good as it will help cycle and act as natural filtration for your tank. Live sand, you don't need it. I used it but I've read and have friends that haven't and I don't see a difference.
Lighting. I'd go with LED
's. If you go small like a 10 gallon your options are still good and you can find some amazing LED
's on eBay or Craigslist.
I hope this helps a little. Sorry I'm still new. My tank as you know is 9 months old.
Google can be a good friend here as well as the saltys on the forum.
I'm throw in some links you may find helpful.
PS glad your keeping your word! I'll be sure to start a planted build thread when I'm ready
I hope this helps, again I know it's very basic as far as the information I gave. But I hope at least it gets the wheels turning. I wish I could be more help to ya.
I didn't add anything about a skimmer because if you choose something small that's under 30 gallons you really don't need one if your good with weekly water changes.
I won't get into corals and stock just yet.
Again hope this helped.