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snails are your friend
3,093 Posts
Lots of quality return pumps out there for under $100, or spend a bit more and have one that should run for a decade. I'm a big fan of sumps on larger tanks, but I much prefer the tank to be drilled to using an external overflow box. Is this a drilled tank by chance? It will still work if not, but is noisier and has a potential fail point, should you break the siphon.

Maintaining water level is easy as pie! It basically does it itself. However much water the return pump pushes into the tank, is the amount that will overflow back into the sump. As evaporation happens, the tank level remains the same, the sump is what gets low. If you use a more powerful pump, more water goes through it. There's a point where the overflow box can't keep up with the return pump so you don't want more than it can handle. Media expense can be near nothing, outside of any Purigen/carbon/etc. you might use in any filter. You won't require extra bio media in a planted tank, but even in a fish-only set up you needn't buy "bio balls" and so forth. My best fish-only marine tank ever used lady's hair curlers and plastic army men from the dollar store as bio media. Anything that provides surface area will work. In a planted setup, I'd be inclined to use just mechanical filtration like rinse-able foam pads and sponges, plus any chemical filtration your particular tank might need.

If you have any questions about the tank you are interested in, you can copy the ad and post a screenshot (pretty sure that's allowed), or PM the link to the actual ad to me and I'll give my honest opinion on how good a deal it is. I'm in the retail side of the trade and could probably look up wholesale value or comps if I don't know them already.
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