Psych! If you're looking for somewhere to tell you what to watch-out for when converting from a reef tank to planted, look elsewhere. I've not a clue and that's why I'm beggin' help.
I have an RSM 250. Pictured here.
Ya ya, that's not a picture of mine. I had a bunch, but not that much coral.
For those not familiar with the RSM 250 it's a 65 gal all in one system, designed specifically for reef systems. Specs
After having mine up for about a year, my corals PS, SPS etc) were growing well, fish were having a grand ole time. Then I got some really bad advice about some live stock from my LFS. I ended up with an unsupportable bio load and a major mess on my hands. Honestly, I should have realized it thought it out. My BS meter is normally pretty good. I finally admitted defeat yesterday. All the live stock and corals I could save went to the fish store for re sale (no not that one!). All the live rock went into the dead rock pile out back.
I cleaned the tank as thoroughly as possible. Filled it with water and chlorinated the heck out of the water. I'll let that cycle through the dual pumps and the chiller for a couple of days. After that I'll drain, clean out the filters and refill with water and start the biological cycle.
I've got a few questions I could use some help with.
1) Is the lighting on the system to much. It's 4watt / gal but are t5s OK? Light spec here (Lighting: Reef Spec lighting of 4watts per gallon is controlled by a high quality timer and consists of 6 39w T5 Linear Power Compact lamps giving 234 watts output. An additional fan is now included in order to aid cooling during hot periods.
2) Is the amount of flow OK. There's 2 pumps. Total 250 gph out put. I can swap out pumps for lower flow if necessary.
3) Should I leave the skimmer in? Gut feel it can't hurt and the extra O2
4) What's the best way to deal with substrate? I don't want to over spend. But don't want to underspend and do something stupid either way.
5) Should I start with plants? Or let it cycle and then add fish, then plants? (If i add plants and they chew up the ammonia, will that slow the cycle? If it does, then is a cycle really necessary. Thought being; a cycle is to build ammonia and nitrate eating bacteria, right. If I have plants doing that work, then is the tank "cycled" per se?
NOTE: I'm leaning toward a mass of small free swimmers (tetras, danios, guppies, etc) and CUC as necessary. Mostly non aggressive, and < 2" adult size fish. (Really tired of big tank and only 4-5 fish in it don't ya know).
My aquascape ideas are pretty basic. Drift wood with some rocks for caves. Lots of plants. Lots and lots of plants. What kind, you ask? NO CLUE.....
Thanks in advance for suggestions and advice.