I've always preferred live rock when setting up an aquarium. When I bought used aquariums, careful consideration included what type of rock I was getting. It added to the price of the sale, but was totally worth it for me. Over the years, I acquired hundreds of pounds which are all in use in my current systems.
When it was time to set up a new aquarium, I wanted some live rock. I checked the local fish store near me but wasn't impressed with the choices, so I decided to shop at GulfLiveRock.com, a company out of Florida that sells live rock. They ship overnight too, so die-off is minimal.
They have a few package sizes, so I picked a smaller box because I wanted the look of the tank to be mostly open space with a little rock. They were kind enough to send me a picture of the rock they were prepared to ship, which I quickly agreed to.
The next day my box arrived, well packed. Each rock was wrapped in wet paper towels, and they revealed several types of sponges, macro algaes, feather dusters, and a couple of clams. (Unfortunately the clams didn't survive the cycling process, but the rest did.) I spotted three aiptasia, and a couple of other things I don't recognize.
Here are some pictures of the rock, so you can see what it looks like.