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If you're starting with dry rock, yes do it in a separate container. Dry rock in my experience with fill the water with po4. It will help with the ugly phase. I wouldn't worry about cycling perse but definitely to cure the rocks. After about 3 months the po4 was finally readable, and I did...
Be patient! That's the biggest thing to do. Manually remove as much algae as you can, and test nitrates and phosphate. Do water changes and slug it out for the first year. Your tank is still young. My first year was awful but now my tank is pretty alright lol
I've used him and would again of i ever get more fish. Very fair prices and honest. I had one doa and he offered multiple options for making it right. Also he held one fish due to it acting sick and sent another one the next week.
Just be careful with black boxes though. Some are way stronger than you'd think. I have a set I'm not using because they were putting out so much par it was cooking coral. Turned down halfway i was getting over 900 par at 6in with the light up 24 in above the water
T5s will grow anything provided you use the right bulbs. Ati blue plus is perfect in my opinion, and you can add a few different bulbs for color. Ati has bulb arrangements suggestions on their website. Leds will give you the shimmer that t5 don't though. I use led for the shimmer on my main...