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On your original plan: "fill tank, add salt" Mix the water and salt OUTSIDE the tank first, then add the salt water to the tank. Adding FW
to the tank then mixing in the sand will lead to fluctuating salinity while you set things up and will just frustrate you. The FW
will settle into the sand when you first put it in, then when you add the salt, the water in the sand will take a long while before it absorbs any salt (And therefore slow down the bacteria trying to populate it during your cycle). So, mix first, then add to the tank.
You mentioned adding a cleaner shrimp in phase one. I would hold off on the inverts until your cycle has been over for at least a week or two. Inverts (shrimps, crabs etc) are highly sensative to nitrates. Nitrates are the last to go in your cycle and the bacteria that removes them is the slowest to form.
In my 55 tank I used two 50 pound bags of SouthDown sand and got the perfect DSB
. (4-5" I think) So two bags should be perfect for you as well. Rinsing the sand is a matter of opinion. There are those who perport the benefit of the silt sized grain on both the flaura and fauna that will reside in your DSB
. I didn't rinse mine, only took a couple days to settle.
I would skip the bio-media in the canister filter. It will filter everything but nitrates and they will begin to accumulate and you'll end up just wanting to remove the media anyway. Plus, it will slow down the bacteria growth on your LR
You have a plan for LR
and base rock. You should pickyourself up 4 or 5 pounds of LS
from an established tank. Please note I am NOT refering to the "live sand" they sell in a bag that sits on the shelf at the LFS
. True Live sand from a LFS
will come from a tank and will have bacteria, worms, little critters of all sorts (you may not see them when you scoop it up, but they're in there) and will seed your sand bed. If you can find any local hobbiest they may be willing to give/sell you a few scoops from their tank. Some groups even have sand swap meets every once in a while as you want your sand bed to be as diverse as possible.
Speaking of your sandbed population, you want gobies and blennys? depending on which kind, you may need to regularly "re-stock" your sand bed as some blennies/gobies will eat whatever they can find in the sandbed and will eventually clean your sand bed dry. You'll have to pick up little bags of "stuff" to repopulate your sand bed, such as "garfs'grunge"
Hope that helps! I'm assuming you've gotten yourself a good set of the basic test kits? hydrometer/refractometer? A great big plastic tub to keep RO
water in at all times for top offs etc?