First of all.. Welcome to AquariumAdvice.com
Originally Posted by hobbes
1) What is the best way to cycle to cycle the tank? Is there a quick way?
Never be in a hurry to do anything. The best way to cycle a tank is with uncured LR
or the use of a cocktail shrimp. How to cycle your tank with out the use of fish
2) Live rock and live sand, would this have any benefit to me? I am just using regular lighting, nothing fancy.
yes but not neccessarily the sand unless it is from another mature tank or properly loaded with live
organisms. Wet bagged LS
you find online or at the LFS
is useless IME
. For a FOWLR
tank, as long as you can provide about 80-100 w of lighting, the coralline on the rock will be fine.
3) Is there any other equipment (skimmers, etc.) that I should be adding to this?
If the bio-load is kept light a skimmer is not absolutely neccessary. A good alternative is a refugium
with macro algaes for nutrient export. Water changes on a regular basis will also aid in keeping the tank healthy. It really depends on what you keep.
4) Any other advice for the beginner would be much appreciated. The more I learn now the less money I throw away later.
Read, read and read some more. You have already discovered AA, so the rest should hopefully come in time.
There are several great books
available that will help you in getting started in the right direction. The Conscientious Marine Aquarist
by Robert M. Fenner and Christopher Turk is a great beginning.