I am getting live rock from multiple local sources, hopefully to make it more diverse.Snoopdog. That is great what you do with your kids. I do that with my Son N Law. I also never had anyone touch my car, boat or house but for the last 10 years, I take it for oil changes.
After a while it is just to tough getting under the car any more but I would rather do it myself. I changed my boat oil last week as that is much easier.
As for rock, you certainly could use dead rock. But the tank would be much healthier and cycle quicker if you also add live rock. The more the better but it doesn't have to be all live rock. In a year or two bacteria will spread to everything even pictures of your Mother n Law if you want.
Also, the more bio diversity you can add the better also. Forget hitchhikers unless you see a big crab or lobster.
Hitchhikers will always show up, but 99% of the time they will disappear on their own with no help from you.
The tanks with all the problems are the ones that are tweeked, medicated, quarantened and constantly messed with.
I would never add a chemical to eliminate anything because everything you use has side effects that may never straighten itself out.
Good Luck, time to take my walk to the beach
Getting back to fish, very few of us have Great Success because we don’t stay in the hobby long enough. If we leave the hobby in only 8 years we will fail at having great success as most fish related things we keep live longer than that.
That is with the exception of seahorses and pipefish which at one time were not even thought of as fish, but insects. (No really)
Bangai Cardinals have one of the shortest lifespans at about 4 or 5 years so if you want great success and you know you will leave the hobby next year, get one of those.
IBack where it all began, I started my tank with water from the far western Sound but as much as I like bacteria, that stuff is not even water.
There is so much run off from streets, golf courses, fertilizer, frankfurter carts that you can't really use it in a reef any more.
I also SCUBA dove there for 30 years. The closest place to you where the water is pretty clean is a college in Brooklyn, I forget the name but I worked on the construction. I think it's maritime colege or something like that. It's right on the Atlantic and I have collected water from there. I am not sure if you are allowed to to that any more.
I now live 60 miles out on Long Island so I am basically on the Atlantic and the water is clean.
I was up past you yesterday, we went to Nyack.
One 41 year old I know who lives right near me still lives with his parents. They support him, feed him, clothe him and lend him their car. That should have been my parents. They wanted to throw me out when I was 12.
I have a nephew in law who is 35, and mommy still does everything for him.