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Does all-in-one work without mods?

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I am looking at buying an all in one (30 - 40 gallon) next month after I move. 


Will one work work long term with standard equipment that comes with the tank without any modifications? 


I realize a power head and a light will be needed, but has anyone ran one long term without a bunch of modifications 


Any recommendations?

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Most of the "modifications" (usually meaning equipment upgrades) that people perform on AIO systems are a matter of convenience or personal preference. Strictly speaking a heater, a source of flow, and a light are all the equipment that you need in order to run a reef system. In some circumstances adding other "extra" equipment may even be more trouble than it's worth.


That being said, equipment such as auto topoff systems, protein skimmers, automated dosers, timed lighting, etc. can greatly ease the maintenance required to keep your livestock healthy, so almost all reefers decide to upgrade their baseline equipment sooner or later. Whether or not having these extras will significantly impact the well-being of your aquarium largely depends on what you plan to keep in it.


In terms of actual physical modifications (i.e. drilling the glass to add plumbing for a sump), those are certainly not necessary at all. A large majority of AIO owners never make any material changes to the structure of their aquariums. 

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With a light and powerhead, that covers a majority of the modifications most people do. A lot of all in ones come with some pathetic filter media, a cheap, one use bag of charcoal, and some monstrous filter block sponge. For a reef tank, most people will toss that stuff out, and run filter floss or filter pad. Buy it in bulk, and use a refillable bag to put charcoal in. The other mods a lot of people do are to the back chamber compartments, putting in DIY or custom made media baskets. Skimmers? Bah, never ran one. Keeping up on water changes, and replacing filter pad twice a week works for me.


There are a lot of additions you can add to the tank, if that is what you mean by modifications. Is someone going to be around all the time for topping off with RO/DI water? If no, and you are keeping corals, then you will need an auto top off.  And if you are sinking a lot of money into corals or fish, you will want to monitor and control your temps. Do you live in an area susceptible to power outages? A battery powered method to provide air/flow to your tanks is great insurance. 


Checkout the all in ones from Innovative Marine. The return pump is controllable, it is setup for filter socks, It comes with a media basket, and it looks like they have enough room in the back for ATO, temp probe and so forth. The 25 lagoon or 30 long all in one will be my next tank. I was going to go sump, but realized these all in ones have come a long way in the last few years. 



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