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Setup Procedure


We send all the live sand and half of the live rock on the first shipment, you wait until the tank cycles, call us back and we send the rest of the rock and all the critters. This way the tank cycles without stressing the full amount of rock and sand stirring critters. The second shipment is the rest of your rock, some with hard corals, and the sand stirrers which are introduced to a cycled tank and do much better than adding everything at once!

All you need:
  • Saltwater (preferably made with filtered, reverse osmosis water) in your tank at a Specific Gravity of 1.022-1.025 with a temperature around 75 degrees.
  • A heater to keep the temperature consistent.
  • A pump that moves the water around. You can use power heads or an external pump for water movement. The more water movement, the better -- remember, we're simulating the ocean here!
  • Good lights -- we use a combination of daylight and actinic VHO bulbs. Metal halides can be used but are not necessary. Compact fluorescents and T5 lighting also work well.
  • A good protein skimmer.
  • A test kit to measure ammonia.
That is all the equipment you need! You need no sump or wet dry (although these won't hurt the tank, of course -- many folks choose to use a sump to "hide" their skimmer, pump, and heater).

The Package will arrive at the airport or your doorstep. See Shipping Information for more information about how shipping is handled.


The Package will arrive via Fed Ex to your front door, or via the airlines to a major airport near you.
  1. Turn off your pumps and protein skimmer.
  2. The live sand goes in first. Then using your hands, stir up the sand in the bag real well and then dump the water out of the bag as this will eliminate a lot of the silt from the sand.
  3. Next pick up the whole bag and set it down on the bottom of the aquarium. Grab the bottom of the bag, slowly turn it over, and spread out the sand evenly.
  4. Next comes the rock. We recommend that you wear gloves to protect your fingers, such as never-used dishwashing gloves that don't have any "powder" on the inside.
  5. Open the bag that the rock comes in, and swish the rock around in the water a bit. This will remove silt and possibly shake off a crab or two (which you may or may not want -- see the Good Crab/Bad Crab page).
  6. Lift the rock up out of the water and smell the sponges on the rock. If you smell anything that stinks badly, remove it. Typically there isn't much die-off, since we ship all of the rock in water, but some sponges are very fragile, and will die no matter what precautions are taken. Removing the dead sponge before it goes into the water will help shorten your tank cycle. However, do not have the rock out of the water for long, as air is very bad for sponges. You want to do this as quickly as possible!
  7. Aquascape your tank. The larger rocks are used for the base of the reef, next place the decorator rock without the corals on top of the larger rock. On the second shipment the rest of the rock and animals will arrive. You can add them the same way.
  8. Check the water and sediment in the bags closely. There are likely a few crabs hanging out in there, and possibly some small urchins and starfish.
  9. Keep your skimmer turned off for 5 hours to allow the bacteria that we supply in the shipment to dissolve and populate the tank.
  10. After you are done arranging the rock turn your pumps back on. Sit back now and watch, because with this combination of rock and sand, the water will clear up in a matter of hours.
  11. You can keep your lights on for 5 hours a day while your tank cycles.



To have success with the Package, you MUST be ready to make multiple water changes as your tank cycles the first two weeks.

You need to have premixed saltwater ready to go to make water changes as your ammonia level goes up. Most people use a Rubbermaid trash can for storing their replacement water. Be sure to have an air stone bubbling this water all the time and keep the temperature the same as your tank's temperature.

You MUST have an equal volume of water equal to the size of the aquarium 'The Package' is in.

Make sure you have a new, good ammonia test kit. Test the tank at least twice a day (morning and evening). As soon as the level gets above one part per million, change enough water to bring it down to safe levels. For example, if your test shows that you're at 1.25ppm, you'll need do approximately a 25% water change to get it below 1ppm. It may take 4 to 7 days or more of water changes until the tank cycles.

Failure to follow these directions will cause your rock to die.

After your tank cycles you will be done with water changes and just watching your tank instead of working on it. This is a MUST procedure for a happy reef tank. Most customers cycle in 10 days or less. Make sure yours is a "happy" cycle, and a happy reef tank!

Note: do not feed the tank during the cycle. After the cycle has completed, you can feed according to the Ongoing Maintenance instructions.


After your tank cycles, call us and we ship you the rest of the rock and sand stirrers. When the second shipment arrives, follow the same procedure with handling and aquascaping the rock. In addition, follow these directions to "aclimate" your new critters to the tank:
  1. Put all of the critters into one bag.
  2. Slowly add water from your tank into the bag. The goal is to double the amount of water over the course of two to three hours. Some folks siphon water out of the tank with a very small tube (tied to make it just "drip" in), while others add water a quarter cup at a time. This slowly aclimates your new friends to your exact water qualities.
  3. Then set the bag into the water to allow the temperature to equalize (20 minutes should do the trick).
  4. Finally, carefully lift the critters out of the bag and place them into the tank. You can discard the water left over in the bag.
  5. Again, closely monitor your tank's ammonia for two weeks just like you did when the first batch arrived.
  6. Once your tank has stabalized (no more ammonia!), wait a few weeks to let everyong settle in, and then you can begin adding fish and other corals to your ocean.
Think about it! What's in the ocean? There is one big pump moving the water around, live sand, live rock, the animals, and the white foam you see on the beaches is the proteins, created by the wind and waves. You have now recreated this same situation in "Your Ocean". That's all there is to it!
Package Contents
Setup Procedure
Ongoing Maint &; Resources
  Animals to Remove
Pricing a Package
  Pricing Chart
Frequently Asked Questions