My first saltwater setup (have had freshwater fish for about 30 years - with my current tank going continuously for 20+), have wanted to get a saltwater reef tank for a long time, almost as long as I've had freshwater fish, but events recently conspired to allow me to do so. I picked up a 75 Gal used tank (in kinda rough shape) for cheap, refinished it, and figured I would acquire pieces gradually and spread out the price pain. Then a saltwater store in the town my wife works in went out of business, so I got most of the stuff super-cheap and after a couple more months of putting it all together(and building the quarrantine tank stand on the right) - I'm now cycling (and addicted to researching everything I'm gonna put in it).
My basic philosophy is that I'm building it from the ground up with regards to trophic levels, and trying to maximize sustainable biodiversity - so I'm going to stock it well with several species of copepods, amphipods, and feeder algae/phytoplankton, building my way up to captive bred fish species (end goal - a mated pair of mandarin dragonettes).
I've got the tank in early cycling mode now, trying to build up denitrifying bacterial levels, have plenty of base rock, and going to seed it with some live rock to get a start on coralline algae growth (hopefully along with some copepods). I'm patient and got a good deal on the base rock, so interested in seeing its development over time.
Not sure how soon to add the seed rock though, as I've added some of the tank cycling bacteria, and have been "feeding" the tank flake food to get it moving along - now seeing very slight ammonia levels (the faintest hint of green in the yellow - Sera testing kit. maybe 50ppb at 8.4pH), no nitrite but some measurable levels of both nitrate and phosphate. I'm thinking that I've probably got all the bacteria that I need, just not at the levels I need - so adding some live rock or chaetomorpha+pods might help it cycle faster with the initial die-off.