Congrats on the tank! I'm researching SW
right now too, but I'll try to help:
Standard lighting will probably be ok for fish only. Later on you may want to upgrade when you find some corals that you like. Corals have very specific lighting requirements.
Cannister filters are generally not used in SW
the way they are in FW
. The media in there may create high nitrate levels. In FW
, nitrate levels may be up to 40 ppm
with no harm, but in a SW
tank they should be 0. You could remove the media and use it as a water circulator. SW
tanks generally need more water movement than FW
Your hydrometer will be fine to measure salt levels. Some people upgrade to a refractometer later on, because they are more expensive.
The test kit should test for ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and pH. There are some other saltwater tests that you may need, like calcium and alkalinity, and some trace minerals you may need to test for if you get corals someday. Maybe someone else can fill you in on those tests.
If the salt is unlabeled, I would be hesitant about using it! Can you verify that it is a saltwater salt mix??
Some people use sand as a substrate, and some use crushed coral. I would tend to go with sand. It doesn't have to be live sand, just an aragonite-based sand. If you use crushed coral, be sure to monitor your pH often. The bacteria on the LR
will end up in your sand, so you don't need to start out with live sand. But if you know someone with a disease-free tank, you could see if you can get a cupful of sand from that tank to help yours along.
I would definitely use live rock. Use 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of LR
per gallon of water. This is your primary filtration method. There is an article on curing live rock in the articles section.
You can cycle with a shrimp from the grocery store, or you can cycle the tank as the live rocks cure. I have read that curing live rock does smell -- I plan to cure mine in the garage! Bio-Spira just came out in a marine version. I don't think it takes the place of curing live rock, though. One of the site sponsers has it: www.fishstoretn.com
But no one has written about using it yet, I don't think.
When you do get your fish, you should set up a quarantine tank for them. This way you can make sure they are disease and parasite free before putting them in the main tank. If they need treatment, it's easier to do it in the QT tank, rather than in the main tank.
What kind of water are you going to use? For SW
water is recommended. You can get a home unit, or get the water at a grocery store or pet store. The units will take all the contamination out of the tap water, and then your salt mix will add everything back in that the fish and inverts need. There are a lot of posts on this site that talk about what brand of salt to use, and how to mix it up.
Good luck! Post some pictures of your new setup when you can!