Boys and Girls this will be my last post for various reasons and i hope that this will help all new avid reefers.
Before i list the various issues in point for i would like to advise one and all who are in this hobby for the long haul to NEVER take what any one has posted here or has told you at face value. Look it up. Research it to your heart's content then make a decision.
You have found a good tank maker/contractor and he will get everything done for you. Tank / Piping / Equipment etc.
a) fill up your tank with tap water (there is nothing in there yet so it doesn't matter) or fill it up with sea water through your contacts
Start the pumps/chiller/skimmer etc
c) if you have used tap water add in the required amount of anti chlorine / anti chloramines - I use API
d) Add the required amount of salt mix in your sump and let it dissolve
e) chances are you have been conservative and have not added enough. monitor over a few days until it hits 1.023. Use a refractometer. Easy to use. Cheap. Don't use hydrometers. We will read alot of stuff online about 1.025 / 1.026 etc. Optimum is 1.023 and safe in case you forget to do top ups and evaporation leads to hyper salinity which is no good.
f) a very high chance that your skimmer cup is going to flood over and over. Don't panic. Its normal. Try tweaking it and if that does not work. When it fills just keep emptying the water out from the cup. After a few times it should stabilize.
g) let your tank run for 3 or 4 days
h) add your live rock. Rule is 1 pound per gallon. Well again its preference. How much white Aragonite beach do you want for your fish to swim and play over. You decide.
i) Best to make sure that all the sponges are removed from your love rock as these will rot and smell like sheesh. The cleaner it looks and smells the better it is!
j) After your scaping is done you will need to add activated carbon in your sump. Its good as this will take out all the bad stuff.
k) Once you are done with your live rock you can add your "sand". Dont add sand. Add Aragonite. Its beneficial (please research this). Black or white live or dead is up to you. If its dead it will get live over time. Crushed coral? Well again up to you. From an aesthetics point of view I will not use it.
l) I would recommend having a chiller with a suitable capacity to run once you have your water in. Good for the live rock etc. and the conditioning starts now before you add your coral / fish etc. If you have a big tank a lot of people will tell you to use a drop in coil with a condenser parked outside your house. Its a good idea. Not because your 1 HP chiller cant do the job but because its going to be noisy and it will generate heat in your hall / room etc. Well if you are okay with it and you have airconditioning then good and well as the chiller will not have to kick in so often and you dont have so much noise or heat etc.
m) leave your lights on during the break in of your tank. 6 hours every day. Dont worry about algae etc. At some point we will all have algae. (like this point and every other do your own research)
n) How to add the aragonite? Well use fistfuls and just drop it in. Do it carefully so it doesn't settle on your live rock. What is an ideal thickness? All depends on you. Not more then 1 inch i believe is good. Dont worry about the cloudiness etc. It will settle after a day or so.
o) how long do you wait before adding live things into your tank? Usually two days after your first water change which you can determine a) via test kits visually - once your water is crystal clear. The bacteria has done its work and you are good to go.
p) what do you add? I will start with LPS first - corals a few now and then. Let your tank mature and become rich with pods and other yummy stuff before you add your fish.
q) the less fish you have in your tank the less headache you will have. Small bio load - easy - big bio load hard! Its up to you guys. There is no rule. The more fish you have the more frequently you have to change your water - 10% weekly etc.
r) Once your tank is RICH in natural live foods which can continue to breed in your tank provided your fish dont eat them all up - i.e. too many fish then its super. If you must feed your fish. Feed them only ONCE a day. Once a day is enough. Trust me on this one. Even if you feed them once every alternative day its fine. Overfeeding them is going to cause you all sorts of problems.
s) if you get ICH. dont panic. Drop the Salinity to 1.020. If you have Corals etc read up. I would not recommend meds.
t) I would always recommend LED lights. Again do your own research. Many views on this.
If any of you needs any help please feel free to PM me. I will reply. Good luck and God Bless! Adios and always remember that Fortune Favours the Brave!