How to set up a new tank with an eye towards building biodiversity?

BRS

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So I'm looking to get back into the hobby (after 15 years away, had a small reef tank in college...finally have a house to dedicate to a big tank) and have been doing a lot reading and one thing that stood out to me is 1) Live rock is hard to get nowadays and is expensive and has issues with pests and 2) It seems that having high biodiversity in your tank is a really good thing.


My question is this: What is the best way to go about setting up a new tank while trying to increase biodiversity?

I'd like to do an HNSA aquascape so I want to build most of the reef structure out of dry rock (looking at Marcorock right now). My goals for this tank are a mixed reef tank with a sand bed (looking at the RedSea Reefer 625 133gal tank) with a focus on SPS corals and would like to run the tank as long as possible...5+ years. I'd like to keep this tank pest free as long as possible but I've considered adding a few pieces of live rock to seed my tank. Or add some bottled bacteria but from what @AquaBiomics posted a couple years ago:
Direct data on the effects of bottled bacteria on the microbiome are few and far between, but I can add a few numbers to this discussion. I recently described how in a dry rock tank with nothing added, the diversity starts low and remain slow for at least a month.

Bottled bacteria (BB), used as directed to start a cycle in these tanks, had little or no benefit for microbial diversity. Dry rock tanks after one month actually had slightly higher diversity (28% difference) than BB tanks. This pattern remained after adding an additional dose of the product and sampling a week later (44% difference in diversity). In contrast, the diversity in live rock tanks was about 3 times higher (almost a 200% difference) than in dry rock tanks.

So if bottled bacteria isn't the best, and live rock is hard to get and I might struggle with pests then what's the best approach?

Some options I've thought of:
1. Do dry rock only and add multiple different brands and types of bottled bacteria. Seed coraline once the lights turn on.
2. Do dry rock and just 1 type of bottled bacteria.
3. Dry rock, multiple bottled bacteria, and some reef mud\live sand.
4. Do dry rock and add some live rock pieces to seed it. Still worried about pests with this approach...maybe this isn't an issue.
5. Do it all: Dry rock for primary aquascape, 20-30# of live rock to seed, bottled bacteria, live sand, reef mud.
6. Do dry rock and find some aquacultured\cured rock that is pest free. Does anyone know if this exists or where to buy such rock?

Any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated! I feel a little lost with all the options out there and would like to be as successful as possible.
 
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Saskdevil

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Dry rock will work fine in time. As you add corals, alages and microflora with be added from the specimens and their plugs. Start with some CabriSea Alive Sand also, it's great to kick-start bacteria growth. If you have a friend with an established tank, ask if you can steal some of their media and it to yours. Once your tank is cycled and you start to get your diatoms and algae growing, add some snails; they'll usually come with some good hitchhikers, just give them a good look in the bag before adding if your worries at all.
 

monkeyCmonkeyDo

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I started with dry rock. I've added a lot. The biodiversity is not their. Yes I have pods and little critters but the aptasia is able to spread I notice very easily.
You also exp a terrible green hair algae or i did exp. That in my opinion just isn't necessarily or needed.
D
 
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Saskdevil

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I started with dry rock. I've added a lot. The biodiversity is not their. Yes I have pods and little critters but the aptasia is able to spread I notice very easily.
You also exp a terrible green hair algae or i did exp. That in my opinion just isn't necessarily or needed.
D
I kind of roll with what the tank throws at me and use that to create the bio-diversity. I got a Peppermint Shrimp for the aptasia and a tuxedo urchin for the hair algae. I live in Northern Canada, and live rocks hard to come by. I could order some but the cost is so much to ship, so I've just settled to use dry. I'm one year in and I'm pretty impressed with where I'm at. I guess it also depends on if your lucky and you get some get some good hitchhikers.
 
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J1a

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If you any reefer in your area who has matured tanks without pest problem, you can try and see if they can let you seed some of your macro rocks in their tank.

The problem of only using the bacteria is that even if it works, a lot of microfauna is missing still. Only when you started to add in corals, then those micro fauna starts to come in more.
 
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