1) I use the remora with MJ1200 HOB
version of the urchin. It seems to work well, but the jury's still out until the microbubbles stop, maybe 2-3 weeks.
2) I had been using MJ1200's and they worked awesome. They work great with a wavemaker. Since then I have switched to the powersweeps mainly for the adjustable flow rate. The 2 MJ1200's were too much for my 47.5 gallon.
3) No experience with return pumps yet/no help there
.com is awesome. I had 35lbs keys shipped 6 weeks ago, and ordered 20lbs gulf and 20lbs rubble (for filtration) yesterday. I know they are not the only ones out there, but I really liked their service and the rock was killer. You shouldn't be disappointed with any rock from them.
5) I used arag-alive live sand. It wasn't too expensive and looked good. I swapped from CC
and like the sand MUCH better. I used 60lbs in 47.5 gallon @ $18.75 per 20lb.
6) Lighting - tough choice - Heat was an issue for me, I ended up breaking down and mortgaging a chiller (only 323 more payments...lol) Even PC
lighting caused too much heat. I wish I'd gone MH
now that I had to get a chiller anyway, but thought PC
would be less heat - which it probably is - but it was still too much for my liking.
7) I use HAGEN master test kit after trying 3 different brands. It seems to be the easiest to use and comes closest to the readings @ my lfs
. I paid $55 off ebay. It has Cal, Phosphate, Nitrate, Nitrite, Amm, Alk
, etc. Plus it comes in a carrying case for easy storage. Mine has a date of 2008 for expiration. I think it's good for 75-90 tests, depending on which test it is.
8) I have had excellent luck with a $109.00 85GPD RO
unit off ebay (filterdirect was the seller, also website of the same name). It was easy to install, has a 4gallon holding tank, and works great for drinking water also. I would look into this if you can
I am still learning, but I have made some of the same choices you are thinking about.
I hope this is of some help.