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Never dunk prior to first flush. You can even get away with two flushes without dunking if you have the correct moisture content in your substrate. You'll know when you need to dunk because the substrate will shrink and pull away from the sides of the tub.
I believe 2.3 inch holes are too large. I'd recommend four 1.75 inch holes on top and four slightly smaller holes on bottom (1-1.25").