10-02-2011, 08:23 PM
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First of all let me wish you good luck! I've been looking into the same thing and throwing some ideas around.
Tank size, will all depend on the fish you are housing of course and your sizes seem to be about right but its probably something you will just have to figure out as you go (maybe theres a hidden shop keeper here on the forum that can help more)
Sump or no... If I was going to do a setup with a ton of tanks, I would defiantly look at doing a sump setup, its over all less maintenance required then having each tank separate, let me throw some points at you at why I would go with sump setups;
1. When you need to do water changes you can change from the sump so you do multiple tanks at once, saving you time especially when you need to change 10's and 10's at a time.
2. With constantly fluctuating stock levels the sumps will save you from having to constantly moving filter material around to keep the bacteria going, as your bound to keep at least one of the tanks in the sump full of fish.
3. If you need to move fish from tank to tank as long as its in the same setup you can instantly move them since its the same water.
4. Keeps the display tanks free of ugly filters and heaters, plus you will need to invest in less heaters and replace less of them since one will handle all the tanks.
Some cons of course are the chance of disease out breaks between multiple tanks, the higher setup cost and the greater chance for leaks. But all in all its worth it in my opinion, plus you will only loose the bottom 2 feet for display, an area most people don't like going that low anyways (besides kids). And if you really need the extra tanks then you can go with a stack of 30x30x30 for the smaller fish or fish you have less quantity of.
If you do decide to go with filters then use sponge filters, they are easier to move around and take care of.
As for gravel, I'd say no for the most part, its easier to maintain with out it and easier to catch fish but I've sure for some fish you will want to add some gravel.