Rock Aquarium

What is best "plant-like" life can I add to fish-only w/ live rock aquarium for color & texture? Mushrooms?

I have years of experience with freshwater but I am just starting to cycle a fowlr 75 gallon tank with live rock (no fish yet). The live rock is showing great life but I would love to have more color and texture.

I am not ready for a reef tank. I like to take things in baby steps! Lots less stress. Also, the hood/lighting on my tank is the regular one bulb that comes with freshwater tanks and I am thinking about changing the lighting. I would appreciate suggestions and if known the cost expectations...

Thanks so much!
Oops! I realize that fowlr means "fish-only & live rock". I was not sure if it is a commonly used term - forgive me if I am redundant in my original post...

"Mushrooms" are a coral look-alike (actually called a corallomorphallian) that have photosynthetic algae in their cells. So if you want to keep these, it would be best to change that light over your tank. I've had good success keeping them with double tube high output compact fluorescents and they are easy to keep once you've found the tank level (lights & current) that suits them best. Riccordia are about the same. With better lighting your live rock will develop more color as well - you'll be able to see sponges, macroalgaes, and coralline algae that aren't growing that well now.

You can also add color with other inverts - shrimp for reds, emerald (mithrax) crabs for green or red, hermit crabs (blue-legged and scarlet), and with a 75 gallon, you cold keep a sea star - there are green and yellow serpent stars, blue, orange, and purple linikia stars, red and white tile stars, etc. that won't need better lighting at this point, but will require feeding since you don't have fish yet.

I'd start with a lighting upgrade - it will make what you already have look better without anything upsetting the tank cycling - and it will make what you get in the future look even better! A double tube compact will run $100-$200+ for a 48" model depending on the features you get with it (moonlight LEDs, metal halide combo, etc.). Inverts should start around $7 for some of the crabs up to $80+ for large live rock pieces with mushroom colonies.

Here are some links to lighting systems & inverts:

http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/product/categoryInfo.web?options.passInCategoryKey=22943

http://www.marinedepotlive.com/inverts.html

http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/product/categoryInfo.web?options.passInCategoryKey=23207

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That Fish Place Guide: Curing Aquarium Live Rock



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