I aggree with Fishfreek on the live sand not being a requirement but for me it is one of those things that will save you a big headache by starting with. I wanted to go as inexpensive as possible but found that crushed coral was not the way to go and was causing some problems with nitrates and general cleanliness. So I swapped over to LS
and havent looked back. My recommendation in the LS
area is to use regular dry aragonite sand for 75% of your LS
needs (1lb per gallon?) and "seed" it with 25% live sand (comes wet). In a few months all your sand will become live sand as the critters spread
THe dry aragonite sand should go for 1$ per pound for a good deal and the LS
should go for about 1.50-2 $ for a good deal.
As far as basic setup, I got my sand all figured out and started the cycle with a heater and power head then started adding LR
as my budget permitted. I like to pick out the best pieces from the LFS
when they get a new shipment in and usually only get about 5 lbs or so at a time. (finish with about 1-1.5 lbs per gal
As the cycle progressed I figured I would need some lights and an RO
unit. So I started watching ebay for some power compacts (not nearly as expensive as metal halide) and an ro
unit for around a hundred bucks.
I took this light and cut it in half (be careful to re route the wires accordingly) And an Aqua Safe 6 stage Ro
unit. (the Ro
was 122$ including 30$ shipping.)
The power heads and Skimmer I got off of ebay. If you watch long enough you can find what you are looking for at about half what you get retail. Just be sure the seller has a good rating and if they have negative feedback check to see why. Some people give negative feedbacks for no reason.
Ok thats my two cents. Oh and welcome to the SW
39 gallon (2yrs) 40lbs live sand. 23 lbs LR
(still collecting) , 1 turbo snail, 5 Nasarius snails, 10 blue knuckle hermits, 1 zebra hermit, 1 scarlet hermit, 5 red tip hermits, 1 Green Chromis, 1 Blue Damsel, ? Ricordia, candy cane coral.
135gallon (2 months)
125lbs live sand, 100lbs live rock, 2 175W Metal Halide, 1 175W VHO Actinic (so far). Berlin Protein Skimmer in 40 Gallon Sump. 2 Maxi Jet 1200's. 10 Nassarius, 10 mexican turbos, 10 astreas, 20 Blue Leg Hermits, 20 Scarlet Hermits, 5 Emerald crabs, 5 peppermint shrimp. 1 Copper Band butterfly, 2 False Perculas, 1 Javanese Damsel.