08-09-2010, 03:30 PM
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I would sat that if you want to do a saltwater tank then actually do a saltwater tank. It seems that you like the look of a reef but don't want to do all of the extra maintenance you hear about. I have a 30 gallon reef and I would say that its about the same maintenance as a planted tank.
I have a planted tank too and the only extra work that I put into the reef and not the planted is mixing the salt with the RO water and messing around with it til you get the right salinity. In my opinion a reef tank can definitely become way more of a hassle than a freshwater tank but you don't have to make it a huge hassle.
My reef tank is very simple as far as equipment goes. I have a heater, powerhead, lighting, and a HOB filter with a big bag of carbon in it. No protein skimmer for me.
The only maintenance I do on my tanks is weekly water changes, dosing ferts (which takes 2 seconds) and feeding.
Another option could be a freshwater planted tank. To me, they are just as beautiful as a reef tank and a re a little tiny bit less to maintain, but they are a whole lot less expensive.
If you going to do a FW fake reef then getting a bunch of snails seems like a smart thing to do to keep the algae down on the decorations.