This is my thought process, not everyone sees things the same way I do and I would never discredit anyone's point of view. In the end you have to choose a path from the knowledge you have acquired and go for it.
For me, a filter system is always a good idea on a FOWLR
, a requirement in my book. Without one you will be vacuuming and doing water changes often depending on the fish you keep. I have a Dog Faced Puffer that makes a complete mess at feeding time. My CUC is very good but they can't get every piece, that's where the filter comes into play. Fish pee and that is taken care of naturally by the LR
, provided you have enough for the number and size of the fish you have. They also poop, that takes longer to process. A CUC will help here but depending on your bioload (# of fish and the size)they may not be able to keep up. If you get too big of a CUC they will not have enough to eat, which means you will have to put more food in the tank just for them or they will die. Kinda defeats the purpose of a CUC.
You also mentioned a skimmer. If you have ever seen the product it produces you will not need to ask. I don't know how a FOWLR
without one stays alive. The amount of stuff in the cup is amazing and smells gross.
Canister filters from what I have read do a good job of removing the big stuff but if not cared for can cause other problems like high nitrates. My LFS
, which I don't shop at anymore neglects their filters and it shows. The bad part is they keep them at the end of the isle in the open for anyone to look at. I have never used one as I got a sump at the beginning. Others can add more to this.. Please?
This hobby is expensive to start off correctly and for me, it never gets cheaper. Plan your purchases carefully so you don't have to buy something later to replace an item you thought would get you by.
Ask questions here and remember that not all LFS
's have your best interest in sight. Some are great and some will sell you things you don't need just to make a sale. Find a good one and visit them often.
One last thing, we all love pictures.... It helps to see whats happening when answering questions.
Good luck and keep us all posted on your progress.