1. Substrate; Bare, CC or aragonite sand (you can use silica based sand, but that will limit your clean up crew and other fish selections, since it would be like your critters crawling around in small glass shards). Live sand is not worth the $ IMO
, I have a hard time believing it is actually live, after being shipped and sitting on a shelf. I bought the Carib Sea sand.
2. I have that same filter, no complaints. I think the sponges are a Nitrate factory and am in the process or removing them slowly. You may have to do this in about 6 months or so, if you don't clean the sponges regularly and have enough LR
3. I have read, it is recommended to have 1.5LBs of LR
per gallon. It sounds like you should be good, for your cycle.
4. I don't have a skimmer, I have a FOWLR
. Some say, get it if you can afford it, but I don't think it is vital to FOWLR
5. You hood might cause a low pH. A pic would be good. I'm not sure about FW
, but SW
needs good gas exchange in order to keep a good stable pH. This is simply surface ripple. I had problems with my lid and once I removed it, I didn't have to buffer my tank (I am working on keeping it as natural as possible).
Well, I hope some of this helped.