Seeking advice

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#1
I had been running a 55 gallon brackish setup for a couple years, but a spine surgery forced me to have to rehome my fish and take a break. I’m healed up enough to get back to it, and I’m finally ready to go full marine. I’ve got some questions on making this a successful tank, and I’ve added bullet points to make reading as easy as possible. Any replies will be so appreciated!


• I emptied my tank, cleaned with vinegar and water, and partial filled and emptied a few more times. Currently filled with tap water- Can/should I use my Sungrow Water Conditioner and Dechlorinator before I start cycling my tank?


• I will be doing a fishless cycle and do have test strips , I haven’t even looked at fish yet and am in zero rush. What’s your tried and true method for an ideal fishless cycle?


•I want to skip tapwater and test water to mix my own salinity with Instant Ocean Marine Mix (I’ve got 40 pounds!) going forward, can I use distilled or Culligan drinking water with a TSD meter?


• I have clean and rinsed non dyed aquarium substrate that is labeled for freshwater and saltwater, am I able to leave some of that on the bottom with the addition of around 30 pounds of sand? How much live vs dry sand should I grab?


• I have Dr. Tim’s Ammonium Chloride and 4 oz Nitrifying Bacteria, is that ideal to begin the fishless cycle?


• I plan on starting with less sensitive fish recommended for beginners, and at this time have decided to not add a sump. I’ve got a heater and a double filter with powerhead that is made for both fresh and saltwater, and I’ve ordered a hang on protein skimmer. Is a sump really a necessity from the start? I’m looking into making my own, but may just cave down the road and buy a midrange one.


• Any recommendations on the best places to get healthy live fish? I do have access to a *****, but would rather support smaller local operations if that’s available to me.


• I’m using the LED lights that came with my Aquaculture tank kit, I’m researching now to find their specs but I imagine I will upgrade that down the line. What do you recommend? I’m going to start fish only and will probably upgrade the lights once I’m a bit more experienced and try my hand at coral.


• I’d love to hear about your tank maintenance schedule and how you do water changes!


Other notes: I have a refractometer and a master saltwater test kit, I’ve also downloaded a bunch of saltwater aquarium podcasts that I’m working my way through. I’m thinking of starting with clown fish and one or two other small compatible species. As I get better at this and a little more skilled, I’d love to branch out with coral/anemone/more sensitive fish. Seriously ANY info or input would be so fantastic, there’s such a wealth of knowledge online and on forums that I just don’t even know where to start.
 
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