I am very fortunate to be living in Raja Ampat, West Papua, one of the richest areas in the world for biodiversity. I also live directly on top of a fringing reef. My house is on stilts over the water.
I have never owned a salt water aquarium. I had a girlfriend in university that did, and I do know it requires a lot of effort.
What I would like to do is set up a 50 gallon tank and circulate water from the ocean through it with a small pump-- no filter. I have visions of:
1.) a small roof, to provide some shade, so it does not get too hot.
2.) maybe a 50 gallon drum of live rock such that the water goes from the ocean-->drum--> Tank.
3.) Sand on the bottom a few inches thick, 4.) Some big live rock; likely with small encrusting coral, crustaceans, and other animals already living in it.
5.) Ideally some soft coral-- pink dendronephthya would be nice 6.) anemonefish maybe. 7.) and other things like nudibranchs, coneshels, small crabs etc. 8.) but most impotently 6 or so Pinctada maxima, the oyster south sea pearl are cultivated in.
The thing is I work on a pearl farm, so have access to Pinctada maxima and would like to better study their natural history. but also when we clean the oysters there are lots of very cool creatures that get displaced in the process, so I intend to give them a new home-- at least for a wile to observe them, and then release them (under my house)
I assume I will have to experiment with what and how many species I have, but generally is this concept possible? or destined for failure?