07-19-2012, 12:56 PM
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Yes. That dry base-rock is very useful in that it will eventually become colonized and encrusted with coralline algae. A similar product, though somewhat more dense and "blocky" is also available. In Chicago they call it "holey rock" and it is great for creating a foundation for legitimate live rock. The dry base rock is also economical and there is zero risk of introducing disease (or a Mantis Schrimp) with it.
Your canisters should be able to be used in fresh water again, should you choose, with no problem. My main concern is always wondering if some used piece of equipment has ever been exposed to copper. In such a case, you wouldn't want to use it on a tank containing invertebrates.
I am no expert on the diet of chocolate chip stars. Possibly, if it is incompatible with things you later want to keep, you can re-home it and find a starfish species that wil be more compatible. I usually recommend that people draw up a stocking plan before they begin to acquire livestock. Every purchase and addition will limit, somewhat, the selection and quantity of lifestock you can add later. I recommend you start with things you definitely love and must have, make a short list of those, then see if they are compatible with each other. Things get added to the list, other things get dropped. Finally, once you have selected a group that can (at least theoretically) get along and which will not outgrow the space you have, you determine the sequence in which they might ideally be placed in the tank. Some fish get territorial and should be placed last. Some need time to adjust without competition, so they should go in earlier. Some will only do well in a more stable and well-established tank, so they too need careful consideration.
So I would start by writing down three things you simply have to have, and go from there!