Last week I got a Red Sea Max 34 gallon Nano tank. This past Saturday I filled it with Nutra Sea Water which is supposedly pre-cycled, salted, etc., added 30 pounds of live sand, and 42 pounds of live rock. I have a few questions that I hope somebody can help me with.
1) The styrofoam box the lfs gave me the live rock in was pretty dirty and the rock had small pieces of sytrofoam in it so I washed the rock under freshwater before putting it in the tank. Did I kill off the beneficial bacteria that makes the live rock live?
2) I understand that once I have coral/inverts in the tank I will need to keep the light on for 10 hours a day or so. Until they are added, do I need to keep the light on for the live rock so that the beneficial bacteria that makes it live won't die? If so, how many hours should I keep the light on for?
3) I was told that the temperature should not fluctuate more than 2 degrees per hour and should not get to 81 and never to 82 or above. Does the same hold true for when there is only live rock in the tank?
4) The lfs told me to take out the large white filtration cubes that came with the setup. They told me to keep the carbon but take the white cubes out because those are for fish only setups. It came in the "Complete Reef Setup" though, which I thought was awfully curious. I followed the lfs advice and took it out. Should I have? Sorry but I forget what the cubes are called at the moment.
5) I added a few fancy hermit crabs and a gigantic snail to the tank just so that there is some life in it for the next week while the pre-cycled water that is ready for fish/inverts right out of the box cycles (I got many conflicting opinions from several lfs I spoke to about how long I had to cycle the tank with the pre-cycled water and the live sand). I know that once the tank is stocked there will be things for them to scavenge, but for now is there something I can/should be feeding them? I think the snail eats algea but so far we have been keeping the light off when we are not there and there is no algea to speak of and probably won't be unless we start leaving the light on for the live rock.
6) Right now the tank is teeming with micro-bubbles and has been since I turned it on. I checked what I could, but taking things apart is such an ordeal because the components in this "all in one" system are situated so tightly that getting to most of them requires disassembling the hood, unthreading the wires through their special nooks and crannies, lifting out other components, etc. I plan on calling the manufacturer today. In the meantime, though, can days of constant microbubbles harm the live rock in any way?
Finally, I doubt anyone who doesn't know much about reefs has read this far because this post has only consisted of questions, but I'd like to add a word of caution to anyone considering a reef tank... unless you've got good, local friends in the hobby who can hook you up, it's a deceptively expensive proposition. The sandless, skimmerless, live rock-less, creature-less nano itself is only the tip of the iceburg...
Thanks so much everyone,