Yeah, I have a 29 gallon tank and I am hauling water every two weeks. I live about 30 miles from the closest LFS
which sales salt water already mixed. It sucks, but I can't put a RO
system in my living area. First thing I am going to do when I get a new house. :-p
The savings on gas alone will be well worth the 200 I am going to spend on a RO
It may suck, but if your not willing to drive to get your water or spend the money to get a RO
system than you might not want to do Saltwater.
I can tell you one thing from my experience from setting up a 29. IT"S EXPENSIVE!! :-p No matter your budget it always goes out the window when doing a FOWLR
Things you will need and I suggest because it will help your tank in the long run!!
1. 75 pounds at least of live rock. This adds good area for the beneficial bacteria for your tank, and gives good hiding places for your fish. Most stores will sale it for you at $4.99 a pound if you go buy around 50 pounds. $374.00 dollars right there. You can order online and get 50 pounds of uncured live rock. This just means that the rock has not been able to sit and die off happens. If your cycle your tank first this shouldn't be a problem as your rock will cure while the tank cycles. This is a cheaper way, but shipping can add to the cost.
Another way is you can buy 75 pounds of base rock at around $2.99 a pound and than at least 20 pounds of live rock. The 20 pounds of live rock will seed the rest of the rock into live. This can take up to 6 months, plus the live rock wouldn't be discounted and can sale up to $6.99 per pound. You can add as much or less as you want but good rule is at least as much pounds of live rock as the tank.
2. A filter. I use the fluvial 206 for my filter. I have filter media it's comes with in and I have been running it for two months. I clean it out every week to make sure it's not going to be a nitrite factory. You must be diligent when having a canister filter and clean it out weekly. You already got one so you should be good.
3. A Hang on the back Protein skimmer being your not doing a sump tank. I got the Reef Octopus BH 1000 and it cost me $160 dollars plus shipping. This is important for your water quality to be up. It will be a little unsightly and make it hard to have a lid on (Most saltwater tanks are open top to allow Oxygen exchange). I use an egg crate light cover cut into the shape I need for a lid. This gives me some peace of mind and the benefits of an open top.
4. Live sand. Most live sand cost about $35 per 20 pounds. You don't need all of your sand to be live, but just like the live rock it would help right away for water quality.
5. Heater, a good heater can cost you up to $40 dollars or more. I got mine for $45.
6. Power heads, You want to have every good flow for your tank. This helps with leaving no dead spots for algae to grow and other things to settle. They can cost from $35 on up.
7. Don't forget your temperature thermometers. Always need to know what your temp is. thankfully they are cheap. Got a cool digital one for $8 bucks.
8. Lighting. This is where it can get nasty on price. Depending on what you are doing lighting can be very important. If you are only doing a FOWLR
than I wouldn't worry about lighting too much, as the regular tank light should be fine. If you want to go reef, well than your looking into the hundreds of dollar rang. Sometimes even the thousands.
That really almost everything you can need. As you can see to do it right can cost a lot. I promise you thou, if you do it right the first time the money you save from not having to buy fish after fish will be worth it.
Also when you set up your tank, a lot of people cycle their tank first before adding any fish in. There is many ways to do this. I used the Shrimp method. Just threw a few things of uncooked shrimp into the tank and let nature take it's course for about 3 to 6 weeks. Once my water tested good, I added my first two fish. I waited about 2 weeks before adding another fish, and than one week for another. You don't want to add too much fish too fast as it will shock the bio-load and cause a mini cycle.
Also research your fish!! Don't put a fish in that requires a 100 gallon tank thinking it will be fine in a 75 gallon. Also you got to make sure you know what tank you want. If you want a reef tank some fish are not reef safe, but if you just want a FOWLR
tank almost all fish would be fine in that set up. Don't overstock your tank as well. I only got 4 in my tank, and I am sure I can add maybe 2 more, but I won't because under stocking is best. It helps keeps the water clean and pure and easier to maintain the tank.