Short answer, no. A skimmer is not needed, only good to have. But, you will need a strict & frequent water change schedule. This will get rid of the doc
, basically what a good skimmer does. SW
needs much more attention to water quality then FW
. I'd say without a skimmer, a water change every 7-10 days of 2-4 gallons (10-20%) would be very good. So you can save a lot of $$ on the skimmer, but you have to change the water often.
You should look at adding some lr
for biofiltration and natural reef look. There are inexpensive places online, etc.
After your cycle, when your readings for ammonia and nitrite are 0, you can add some hearty inverts. They make a good cleanup crew. Things like snails, small hermits, shrimp, serpent and brittle stars are excellent. They eat algae and waste. Inverts do not add to the bioload, you can add many.
Also, you may want more cc
in there as 10lbs seems a bit low. More cc
or sand will give you better ph
buffering capacity (ph
more stable). I'd go with aragonite sand; it keeps waste up top where you can clean it, cc
gets tough to clean.