I'm about to receive delivery of a new Cade 1800 and have been going back and forth between these methods to get started:
- Dry rock and bio accelerators like Microbacter
- Live rock from KP and/or Gulf Live Rock
- Hybrid, using mostly dry rock and supplementing with a small amount of live rock
- Live rock brings the risk of undesirable hitchhikers like aptasia, flatworms or mantis shrimp, but in all the tanks I've had, that's never been an issue and there are methods to deal with them. The benefit is a faster cycle with far more biodiversity.
- Upside of dry rock is that I can aquascape outside the tank at my leisure, downside is a longer cycle and less biodiversity.
- The cost of live rock via same-day air freight to a local airport vs dry rock via UPS is very close to the same amount per pound, surprisingly enough.
- Using a 'hybrid' of dry and live rock defeats the purpose of the dry rock if the concern over nasty critters is the worry, so it seems it's one way or the other.