I'm new here and will be the first to say that I know pretty much not a lot about saltwater tanks except that I want one.
I've actually started setting up a 55 gallon saltwater tank in our lab, at the university of Michigan. We don't have the best of funds, but we've gotten a lot of equipment donations from people who have had tanks in the past. The tank was cleaned out from someone's garage, where it had been housing an iguana. It's fine so far as I know. We've filled it with water and mixed up the salt solution, and the gravity of the tank is where it should be (between 1.020 and 1.023). The PH
is at 8.15, but I am a little unsure about what that should be at, as I have heard between 8.1 and 8.3. The temperature is between 75-78 degrees.
We have a protein skimmer made for a 75 gallon tank, as well as two hang on the back filters, one for a twenty gallon and one for a 50-75 gallon tank. We have four powerheads available for our use. Two are 400GPH and two are 200GPH heads. The only one we have put in is the protein skimmer.
Someone brought us crushed coral, which I know is not the best base, but it's what we have to work with at the moment. We've only got about a 1/2 inch base of the crushed coral right now, but I will be adding about three inches of sand as soon as we are able to, on top of that. If it's at all possible, I would like to leave the coral in, under the sand, but if it is a -must- that we have all sand, we'll work on it.
I plan to add 25-40lbs of live rock at one time to cycle the tank with. Does anyone have reccomendation on which kind would be best? I know the differences between cured and uncured, but is there a 'species' of live rock that is better than others for a reef tank base? We have four pieces of a dead coral that were used as decoration in a previous saltwater tank of a friend. We'd also like to know if it would be all right to leave those in, as they are pretty pieces.
We (eventually, though this is a WHILE in the future) would like to have a few different kinds of coral. A clam, some cleaner shrimp, and a mandarin dragonet (the dragonet last and probably this time next year) and hopefully a pair of clownfish. Any advice in this area would be appreciated the most. We would -love- to get a lionfish, but I don't think it's possible to keep with the others we want in the tank.
It's only the two of us working on it, and only one of us knows much of anything about fish. I've taken care of freshwater tanks for fifteen years (And I'm only 18!) and the only time I've ever had trouble with those is when I try to keep normal fish like goldfish. I maintain two ponds with a friend of mine (one 100 gallon and one 1300 gallon) for the past two years. The koi, comets, shubukins, channel cats, and minnows we keep in the ponds all thrive. I breed bettas in my spare time because I love them heart and soul. After knowing what a joy having anc caring for my fish is, I now I wish to expand into Saltwater. Any help toward this end would be wonderful, and greatly appreciated. I hope I have provided enough information.