Welcome to the SW
world. I posted in your thread about MH
lighting. Please have a look.
As for sand beds I have about 6" deep in my 120. I also have about 6" in my refugium. I find the look of the sand interesting. As you have already read some do not. There are a lot of people that have very successful tanks with no sand at all. It's all a personal choice there.
As Austin's Dad mentioned read through the articles on the site. Cycling a SW
tank is similar to that of a FW
tank though we usually use a shrimp (dead cocktail shrimp) to get the cycle going. In your case with such a large tank it will take a few. Buying Some LR
and some base rock will help you in your cycle. If you want to "do it right" as you mentioned then getting all of your rock up front and about 540-600lbs of it will get you going on the right foot. Remember not all of that needs to be live. I would suggest at least 100-150lbs of LR
and the rest base that will help seed your tank and get things going.
You are going to need a decent skimmer. I would suggest a refugium for your system as well. IMO
they are one of the best things to add to a Reef tank.
As for lighting I made some suggestions in your other thread but I will say again that T5 and or VHOs for your actinic (the blue lights) supplement is a better option then CF
lights. T5s produce great lighting and have a longer bulb life then CFs or even VHOs. I use T5s and VHOs on my tank simply because I have them and I want the maximum amount of light on my system without increasing the wattage of my MHs.