Originally Posted by mrdemin
I think I saw someone mentioning that the sand settles faster with the rock in.
Not exactly. Sometimes live sand will cause a bacteria bloom if there is not live rock in the tank for the bacteria to settle onto. It is not the sand that settles faster. It is the bacteria bloom.
Personally, I like the plan above. I would add freshwater, then add the proper amount of salt. Have a couple of power heads to mix the salt well. Allow a couple of days for it to mix well and get the salt level right.
I think add the live sand, and the base rock. The base rock should be dry rock. (Marco Rocks The finest aquarium rock available, base rock, live rock, reef rock, marco rock, reef tank saltwater fish, live corals, Marco rocks, Fiji live rock, Tonga Live rock
) If you allow live rock to be covered by sand on the sides then you will have more die off. Dry rock works best to form the base.
Allow a couple of days for the water to clear and then begin to form the reef structure by adding more dry rock and live rock. I use about 80% dry rock to 20% live. Even 90/10 is acceptable.
Don't worry to much about the water being cloudy, because you are just going to let the tank run for a couple of weeks anyhow. You want plenty of time for the copepod and amphipod populations to grow and flourish before adding any other life to the tank. The more patience you show up front, the better off you will be in the long haul.
This is also the correct time to think about how you will quarantine the new fish. If you plan to use a sponge filter on your quarantine, then add the sponge to the display when you first set up the display. This will seed the sponge with bacteria to have a matured biofilter ready for the quarantine.
If you have not already done so, I suggest reading some of the "build" threads in the Pictures/Videos area of the forum. This will show you pictures of how we have done our builds, step by step, and give you good examples. Here is my 180 build: http://www.tropicalfishkeeping.com/s...f-build-21979/