alone should be enough to cycle the tank. That's assuming you didn't get fully cured LR
from your LFS
and get it right into the tank. 1 shrimp should suffice. Now you need to settle down and wait for tank to cycle. Keep a pump or two going for circulation. You want chaotic water flow,not a straight current. You can achieve this by pointing 2 ph
's at each other or in and X pattern or by directing the flow from the back sides to the front middle glass.
You need to start testing for ammonia and nitrite in a few days. You are looking for an ammonia spike which will then fall off. As the ammonia levels decrease the nitrite should increase till it too spikes. At that point you need to also check the nitrate levels. When all levels are stable at ZERO for a week or two you can start to add livestock. A clean up crew would be a good choice at that time.
Oh, After your tank cycles and before you add any livestock you should do a 25%-50% water change. Check your water parameters for pH, Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate every day or every other day for a week to make sure they are all 0 (pH at 8.0 -8.3)
Your tank will now go through various stages of diatom and algae blooms. These are normal. Keep reading the threads on this and other fora and asking questions.
Let's see, you spend about half the cost of a RO
unit from eBay on the initial water purchase. You need to have Â½ of that on hand for a water change, figure a gallon every other day for top off and 5-6 gallons (10%) every other week for a PWC
. Take your dad through the numbers. I'll bet you get that RO
unit faster than you thought possible. In for a penny, in for a pound!