Glad you're entering the saltwater hobby! I'd advise for the future to get an RO
system or an RO
system if you don't want to spend as much money. Another option would be to buy distilled water. Then for any of these options you can put the water in a bucket or trash bin (like a BRUTE one) and have a powerhead in there and mix saltwater yourself. Having an RO
system would be cheaper in the long run instead of buy premixed or distilled water and you know exactly what is in the water and how long since the filters have been changed.
How long was did you have the LR
before you put it in the tank? If left out too long it can dry out and all the pods
, worms, bacteria, etc. can dry out and die.
You need the heater especially since you have the LR
. However if the temp. is about 78-80F (ideal temp) constantly in your house you might not even need to use the heater.
Yes you can put a table shrimp in a net and leave it there for the tank to cycle. Or you can dose pure ammonia which will require slightly more work, but won't be smelly.
You're not supposed to wash the rock and there could be pests, but there are ways to get rid of them. Don't take out the rock.
It might take a day or a few before the sand settles and the water clears up.
Even experts use those "reef ready" type of tanks ;you're not a dummy, just a beginner
! It's conveinent since you don't have to buy and put together all the plumbing and getting a certain light, etc.
Don't give up, b/c you're probably going to make mistakes and go through the trouble of fixing them and the hobby can be intimidating, but very rewarding. The best advice IMO
is to be patient and RESEARCH. During the cycle, patience will be key, to not buy a fish if your cycle is not done, etc. And research is especially important for everything. Don't just walk in a fish store and ask an employee what fish would be best or what is the prettiest fish and choose it for that. Just saying that if you researched a little more you might have gotten better prices on those things online w/ free shipping rather than in the store. Especially with Petco, most of the time employees don't know a lot if anything about the fish or corals they are selling and they can give VERY FALSE ADVICE. This doesn't just go for Petco though, it can go for any fish store. If it's possible, I'd advise not buying livestock from Petco since almost all the ones I have seen (and many others have complained about this) had so many dead/sick/beaten up fish in each tank and it's just horrible. Try to find an LFS
who specializes in just aquariums.