Just gettin' started - need advice


Reefing newb
Hi everyone. Just set-up my 55 gallon tank. Want a reef tank. I have 35 lbs of cured live rock added last Thursday. I've done a lot of reading/research and am confused - lot's of opinions out there!! First, should I be running my protein skimmer? Should I be doing major water changes during this time - place I purchased the rock from recommends doing weekly 50% water changes. Should I keep my lights on or off? Anything else I should/shouldn't be doing during this time?

If you are going with a reef you will need more live rock then what you currently have in the tank. You will want between 1 and 1.5 lbs per gallon. There is no need to run your protein skimmer yet but it would not hurt either. I would not be doing any water changes untill the system has has a chance to cycle. This will start with the live rock that you have in the tank but can be helped along with either small amounts of food being added to the tank or just adding a shrimp. I would not go with the shrimp. I personally would run the light for a few hours a day to help keep the coraline happy. (but people will disagree with this) Once the tank is cycled then go ahead and start adding your clean up crew. GO SLOW. I would do your first water change after the tank has cycled and before you start adding you clean up crew.

Just a few thoughts.

Building on squibley2 idea's,If you do run the light make sure it is only a couple of hours.You want to get a big algae bloom and nothing to control it.Speaking of lighting What type and wattage do you have?For adding more rocks you do so cheaping though Hirocks.com and use this as your base.A 30 lbs of larger rock is about $45 shipped last I looked.The live will seed the base.I would probley not do 50% water changes weekly($$$)Maybe a couple of gallons if that and top off what evaporates,and step it up closer to the end of the cycle if needed.We have articles section here with some excellent reading for new reef keeper like your self.Have a look for for some great reading.
Thanks, all. I looked at hirocks - nice option. I also looked at article on building own rocks - my husband would get into that. What would you recommend as far as the initial clean-up crew?
Please be sure and get the basic test kits, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite and Ph. If you've been reading you'll know the cycle you must go through. Feed the tank a little food or something to get it going. If you are putting in live rock to cure then that will be enough to get things going. Ammonia will spike, then nitrites. Both will fall to zero and some ammonia will be present. Then and only then add some snails to take of the diatoms and green hair algea that I am sure you'll have. I would test the water initially once a week. Once you see the ammonia drop check maybe two or three times a week. Nitrites fall and then check every other day just to be sure. Once you don't see any more cycling and your clean up crew survives you can start adding some coral and fish. Be careful with the fish bioload though. I'd only add one fish. Then test the tank twice a week for any cycling that may occur. I hope this helps you with your start up. By the way, what kind of lights and skimmers are you planning on getting? Also be sure and get a calcium and alkalinity test kit as well.
As for what kind of clean up crew that is a much more personal choice. Some people go with lots of crabs and a few snails some do the reverse some do all of one or the other (now that everyone is confused). I personally would go with a selection of snails at first crabs can be good but even crabs that are said to be reef safe are still opportunistic feeders and some will nibble on coral if they can't find what they would normally like to eat. The choice is up to you. I personally use both but have lost a few zoos to a ravenous emerald when I was out of town for a couple days.
i just got an clean up crew from blue zoo aquatics good prices located on west coast great price quick shipping packed good no losses. they got a nice web site i would recommend them to anybody.
I have all the test kits except calcium. Already have a protein skimmer - Red Sea Prizm. For lights, right now I just have what came with the tank. I know I'll need to purchase a lighting system for corals - I'm looking into that now and I'm sure I'll have questions about that!!
Thanks again.