I'm new to the saltwater aquarium hobby, and aside from the money side I'm finding it to be really enjoyable because of the nice looking fish and it's fun to play with the little test kit vials and gravity measurers.
My tank is 26gal, with about 8 pounds of live rock, the tank has been up and going for about 6-8 weeks now, the pH is about 8.2, the ammonia/nitrate/nitrite levels are all zero, and I have a crush coral substrate, and I use a tetratec 150 filter system. I currently don't have a powerhead or a skimmer.
I've got three damsels, two hermits crab (red colored), and a chocolate tipped starfish. All the critters seem happy and eat daily.
From reading things over, I'm pretty confused as to the out come of the sand vs crushed coral substrate discussion. I know the CC will collect stuff (the water changes proved that), but would a shifting starfish help keep the substrate cleaner between water changes? I ask this because it takes a lot of vacuuming to clean the substrate and before I get done I've used up my 5gal bucket allotment for the water change.
The other question I have is how to promote the live rock to grow the colors? Recently I've picked up an expensive light (I can never remember the type, but the bulb is u-shaped), I've also got a calcium supplement, dKH
superbuffer supplement, and strontium/molybdenum supplement. I haven't used any of these yet, so if I don't need them hopefully I can exchange them.
My goal is to have a fish only tank, but possible get a coral or two. I would also like to get more live rock for hideouts and color, and a few smaller fish and some shrimps.
Thanks in advance for your help.