09-13-2007, 04:12 PM
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Head to some of the stickies to get an better idea of why this is nearly impossible to answer. There are just as many answers as there are set ups. There is no one way to do anything, it all comes down to budget, time, and experience.
I'll help, as will others, as soon as you narrow down what type of tank you have in mind. Freshwater folks think the same way. In fact this is why freshwater always gets the bad rap of being "easy" or cheaper. In fact my freshwater tanks are equally expensive and full of equipment because none of them are just square boxes full of water. My planted tank is as complicated as any marine reef tank. Just as in freshwater there are South American pleco nuts, cihclids lovers, Asian fanatics, planted tanks, Discus, etc.... All have separate needs that don't overlap.
I'll break it down another level.
FO/Fish Only. As described. A bare bones, I only want some fish, fish tank. Typical set up includes low lighting, low flows, a canister filter. Fish can handle higher parameters much more than coral and inverts.
FOWLR/Fish Only With Live Rock. A little more natural environment for fish only tanks. Nice substrate, live rock to help with bacteria colonies but not much more.
Hobby/Marine tank. Somewhere in between everything. Good substrate, live rock, probably a skimmer, better lighting, basically a touch more of everything. Fish, crabs, snails, inverts, very few corals if any. Beginning to look like a mini ocean.
Reef tank. Dedicated invert, coral and maybe fish. Specialized lighting, high flow, quality skimmer, refugium, sumps, return pumps, live rock, aragonite sand, calcium reactors, chillers, etc..... These are the real deal and take money, time, and dedication to perform well.
So as easy as it would be to say "yeah you want an overflow and a sump", that wouldn't really paint the whole picture. I hope this helps just a touch. For in depth answers and feedback refer to the set ups above, pick your wants and needs and we can go from there.