Originally Posted by DanS180
And what kind of test kit should I get? API?
I like Red Sea test kits for saltwater better than API. They cost more up front but the refills aren't expensive and they are MUCH easier to use and far more accurate. If you don't plan on having corals the API kits are fine. Actually, for pH and nitrate API tests are perfectly fine. It's the alkalinity/KH
and calcium tests that I love from Red Sea and unless you plan on corals you don't need to test calcium.
For live rock, look for subtle signs of life like tiny fan worms and of course coralline algae. If you ask the store when they will be getting their next shipment of live rock you can try to get there when it comes in and be the first to pick out the best pieces.
An added advantage of using fresh live rock is the die off will cycle your tank. You won't need to add a piece of shrimp to the tank for an ammonia source (or which ever method you would otherwise use).
In certain stores other (in the know) reef keepers may be waiting on a new shipment of rock. It's not a big group of people who are picky enough to go through the trouble of doing this but since the cost will be the same for either lifeless live rock or thriving rock, it makes sense to try to get the best rock available. Also, go for the lightest BIG pieces you can find. Lighter rocks are more porous, have more internal surface area for filtration and micro-organisms, and will cost less for their size.