75 to 120 Gallon Sumpless, Pros V. Cons

Plush

I am finally going to commit to my FOWLR tank I have been wanting to do for years. After research I am going to opt not to do a set up that includes a sump. Having the equipment visible isn’t something that bothers me and my tank location will be convenient for doing more frequent water changes.

Are there any cons to going bigger with this type of set up, namely a 120? From what I have read a HOB protein skimmers are much less efficient. This makes me wonder if the 75 may be easier to care for over a 120. Or does the 45 gallons of increased water volume trump any added inefficiencies?
 

PNWAquatics

The biggest disadvantages for not having a sump are not being able to hide equipment and not being able to add a protein skimmer, refugium, algae scrubber, or any other type of nutrient export. I'd recommend going light on stocking so you can rely primarily on biological filtration. If you want a heavily stocked tank or messy fish, I think not using a sump will be much more difficult.

Personally, I'd be hesitant to use a hang on the back skimmer after seeing my skimmer overflow multiple times. With that being said, I don't know if HOB are designed to overflow less than the standing ones.

You'll need good powerheads for water movement and to eliminate dead spots. You could potentially add a hang on the back filter and add mechanical filtration such as carbon and GFO if it becomes necessary.

If you want to do a hybrid approach, you could look into all-in-ones. Those allow you to put extra equipment in without a need for a sump.

I don't think there will be much difference between a 75 and a 120. The 75 will require smaller water changes but you'll have less dilution of nutrients. I'd go with a 120 personally, to increase my stocking options. If you hate water changes, the 75 might be a better option.

What fish do you want to put in to this tank?
 

Plush

The biggest disadvantages for not having a sump are not being able to hide equipment and not being able to add a protein skimmer, refugium, algae scrubber, or any other type of nutrient export. I'd recommend going light on stocking so you can rely primarily on biological filtration. If you want a heavily stocked tank or messy fish, I think not using a sump will be much more difficult.

Personally, I'd be hesitant to use a hang on the back skimmer after seeing my skimmer overflow multiple times. With that being said, I don't know if HOB are designed to overflow less than the standing ones.

You'll need good powerheads for water movement and to eliminate dead spots. You could potentially add a hang on the back filter and add mechanical filtration such as carbon and GFO if it becomes necessary.

If you want to do a hybrid approach, you could look into all-in-ones. Those allow you to put extra equipment in without a need for a sump.

I don't think there will be much difference between a 75 and a 120. The 75 will require smaller water changes but you'll have less dilution of nutrients. I'd go with a 120 personally, to increase my stocking options. If you hate water changes, the 75 might be a better option.

What fish do you want to put in to this tank?

I appreciate the response.


My biggest problem is I don’t have a decent pet/aquarium store around me. My best store is a hardware store that has a small-ish aquarium department. The only tanks they get in are basic ones, no reef-ready or the all-in-ones. To find either of those I’d have to go at least 3+ hours and even then I’m not sure I’d track one down. Trying to transport a big tank that far sounds less than ideal.

In a perfect world I would buy a reef-ready tank and go the sump route. Yah, I could start drilling the tank, but I really dislike the thought of that venture.

Ideally I want to get my hands on a 120 gallon for stocking purposes. Yellow Tang, Clown pair, flame angel, and a one spot fox face are the main fish I am wanting to get.
 

PNWAquatics

If you want a fox face, I would definitely go with a 120 gallon. I doubt it will be much more trouble than a 75 and the fish will appreciate the extra space. That fish combo sounds good, just remember to add the tang last since yellows can be aggressive. You also still have room for other fish.

I'm sorry to hear about the lack of aquarium stores! Have you tried asking the store with the aquarium department if they can order anything for you?

I understand the fear of drilling. I wouldn't want to either! I'm sure a non-sump option will be fine as well, especially since you're going FOWLR. Fish are more forgiving than corals.
 

Jesterrace

I am finally going to commit to my FOWLR tank I have been wanting to do for years. After research I am going to opt not to do a set up that includes a sump. Having the equipment visible isn’t something that bothers me and my tank location will be convenient for doing more frequent water changes.

Are there any cons to going bigger with this type of set up, namely a 120? From what I have read a HOB protein skimmers are much less efficient. This makes me wonder if the 75 may be easier to care for over a 120. Or does the 45 gallons of increased water volume trump any added inefficiencies?

Honestly it's more dependent on Bioload than anything else. I've seen a guy who runs a sumpless/ skimmerless 120 reef tank with relatively little maintenance BUT he only has 3 fish in there. So if you are willing to lighten the bioload for the tank it will go a long way to helping the setup out. The biggest advantage to the 120 (if we are talking about the standard 4X2X2 120) is the extra width for scaping and swim room for your fish. The additional water volume will help a bit as well as long as you don't load up on fish. I would also encourage you to avoid Tangs as they are a very heavy bioload (they poop like crazy). I had a single 4 inch Yellow Tang who could fill an entire corner of my 90 gallon with poop 4x a day. Given that it's FOWLR you might want to look into Butterflyfish (ie Spotband) or Dwarf Angels as they aren't a super high bioload but will provide lots of color and activity. I would also definitely look into some of the more peaceful wrasses (ie Lubbock's Fairy Wrasse, Halichoeres Wrasses such as the Christmas, Red Lined, Yellow) as they have tons of personality, color and activity.
 

Plush

I have opted to go for a 125 gallon tan (6. It was going to be easier for my local store to get and it seems more of a logical fit. The depth didn’t seem overly needed for a FOWLR and I feel like getting good flow (reducing dead spots) will be easier in a narrower tank.

While I do plan to get the yellow tang at some point I will likely take it slow not being an experienced saltwater guy and I don’t plan to max out the stocking like many seem to do. I just don’t like a super busy tank loaded fish. It seems hectic and frantic. I plan to have a more modest stocking and would like to make more of a community feel with some inverts.

I appreciate the advice and fish suggestions to check out.
 

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