I’ve had a reef tank for 15 years now and over the last five years I've finally gotten pretty good at it. Here's a little prayer for all the denizens of the deep that didn't make it through my learning curve.
Based on my experience - the most important four words in reef tank success are "live rock and circulation." You don't need an expensive trickle filter - guaranteed. Place lots of good live rock in your tank and get the water moving through and around it and the livestock and you're 60% of the way to a successful system. Install good quality lighting and you're 75% there. Be diligent about adding kalkwasser to your makeup water (which should be RO purified) and do a ten percent water changes every month or so - and you're 90% of the way to success. Feed your fish regularly - yet sparingly - and your about 95% there. Keep your equipment in good working order and you're set for success.
The equipment on the left REALLY helps maintain the tank nicely. The Sea Swirls and Squid on the closed loop have done wonders. In the past, my star polyps would look great for 3-4 months and then wither away as they were slowly fouled with detritus and algae. With a regular current now sweeping over them (via the Sea Swirls) and pulsing through the tank (SCWD) they are growing and in perfect shape for two years now. The same is happening with the other critters as well.
SAVE tons of money by ordering supplies through catalogs and online through companies like marinedepot.com and get creative when it comes to using different kinds of materials to put your system together (see the Reef Setup page for a few ideas). And look on EBAY too - I've got some great 14k metal halide bulbs from Hong Kong for $20 each - an incredible savings compared to anywhere I've seen in the states.
Don't know what any of this means and want to get into reef tanks? Then do LOTS of reading and ask questions at your local tropical fish store and on line.
A Firefish Happily Hovers
115 Gallons Including Sump
24D x 23T x 43W Glass Tank
Aqua Medic Turboflotor T1000 Skimmer
Dual Sea Swirl Returns
SCWD on Closed Loop
Two 175 watt 14K Metal Halide Lamps
Two VHO 36" Actinic Fluorescent
Dosing Pump for Kalkwasser
Drop in Chiller