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More FAQs about Curing Live Rock 5

Related Articles: Curing Live Rock by Bob Fenner, Live Rock, Answering Some LR FAQs by James Fatherree, Live Rock, Reef Systems, Refugiums,

Related FAQs: Curing Live Rock 1, Curing LR 2, Curing LR 3, Curing LR 4, Curing LR 6, Curing LR 7, Curing LR 8, Ammonia in/and Marine Systems, Live Rock in General, LR Life Identification, Live Rock Selection, Shipping/Moving, Curing Live Rock, Placement, Lighting, Water QualityLive Rock Studies in Fiji Collaboration & Charts, Sumps, RefugiumsFaux Rock,

Better by far to make sure your rock is completely cured before exposing other life to it. Ophiothrix sp... in an Alcyoniid commensal. 

Live Rock Curing Hi and thank you for this wonderful service. I have a quick question regarding live rocks. I just purchased 40 pounds of live rock for a 60g reef. I left the rocks in a bucket with salt water, no heater, no pump, just rocks and salt water. I have left it there for about a day and notice a funny smell when I woke up this morning. <Hydrogen sulphide>  Has the rocks died off yet? I just pump a pump in there to circulate the water. But my question is whiter my rocks are still alive? 50% dead? 25% dead? etc.  <Sounds to me like you got uncured or partially cured live rock. If that is the case read here. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm. James (Salty Dog)>

Polyps on Live Rock - Getting Them Through Cycling/Curing >WOW!!! Let me tell you guys, YOU ROCK!!! >>We do that sometimes. >That was a quick reply. Thanks a lot. >>For whomever answered you, you're welcome. >By the way, here's one more of those naive question you answer all the time. >Not so much naive as in need of more information/learning. >When I got the LR from my LFS, I saw some kind of polyps that look like tiny white-purple Christmas trees on them, very nice creatures. Will they survive through the cycling process? >>In short, no. However, this depends on what you're actually doing with the live rock. Live rock does not need to "cycle" per se, as it already has nitrifying bacteria in situ. What most LR needs to go through is curing. A good proportion of life can (and in my opinion, SHOULD) be saved if one is diligent with large, frequent water changes, as well as making use of good foam fractionation (protein skimming). If you do not allow nitrogenous wastes to rise to lethal levels, you'll be able to keep, and possibly grow, these little polyps. Please DO use our Google search to learn more about curing live rock (or better yet, purchase "The Natural Marine Aquarium - Reef Invertebrates" for the best methods of curing). Marina

Curing Live Rock I got some live rock on eBay from a facility that says it is Walt Smith Fiji rock. <Walt's rock is some of the best around!> At $2.00 a pound, I wonder. In any case it took 4 days to get to me (California to NY) and I started the curing process (my first attempt). As expected, it smells. <No surprise there!> My question is about a substance that is yellow green in color and looks and feels like melted plastic. I have a number of patches like that and was wondering if I should just let nature take it course or is it something I want to remove rather than wait. <Well, it could be dying sponge or other material. It is always best to remove such materials when they start to decompose, as the by-products of this decomposition can severely degrade water quality and make it difficult to effectively cure the rock. Use a slow siphon and/or a soft brush to help remove some of this material regularly. Keep up small, frequent water changes in your curing tank, and employ protein skimming, if possible. Given a little care and the passage of time, you'll end up with beautiful rock that you'll be proud of! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.> 

Live rock from hell Good Morning Bob  <James here today> I am sorry for my lazy interpretations of the English language, I have recently found your web site and find it to be quite resourceful. I currently have a 90 gal reef tank with a medium to large population of fish that I been running for about 7 years. I have no complaints about it, leather corals have split and re-split, mushrooms droppings are almost a routine, xenia growing over to the glass, most of my tanks inhabitants have been there for over 4 years.  My problem is not my reef tank but this live rock that I purchased from Drs. Foster & Smith, they advertised Fiji live rock at a low price and I thought about re-decorating my reef with some new rock and transfer my existing rock to another tank I am going to set-up. I ordered 90lbs. of this "sale" rock, I setup a 35 gal. Rubbermaid container with an MTC HSA 250 protein skimmer and a Cap 1800 power head for circulation.  Upon receiving the rock, I immediately scrubbed any visible die-off, rinsed it in a 5 gal pale of fresh salt water at 1.030 salinity and placed it inside the Rubbermaid for curing. The process started as normal, ammonia spiked to 1pmm, skimmer was pulling out more skimmate than I can handle, after the seventh day, ammonia dropped to 0 and I changed about a third of the water. Nitrites began to climb and peaked out after the 23rd day then slowly began to drop, I followed the suggested guide of changing water every week but I am not a firm believer of this, I feel it should cure in the original water from start to finish and after the cycle has finished, do siphon out any decay left over and do a 50% water change and wait again to see if there is any other spike but since this was the first time I ordered rock online, I chose to follow there recommendations.  Upon the 31st day, nitrite bottomed out and proceeded with siphoning out of any detritus and a water change of about 2/3rds the volume of the Rubbermaid, I waited another day and re-checked water quality and found 0 ammonia but nitrites at .6, now I'm thinking I removed some beneficial bacteria when I siphoned out the Rubbermaid so I chose a "wait and see approach" and hope for the best. Well nitrites continued to climb and are now currently at 2ppm, I've taken some rock out of my existing tank and placed it inside the Rubbermaid hoping to somehow "seed" it. I called Drs. Foster and Smiths' customer service and told them of my plight and there answer was to sit back, the rock still needs to cure.  Hello!!! think I know that much already, after much complaining they issued a small credit to me for my troubles but I still have this Rubbermaid with this rock that will not cure in my living room and the Mrs. has an evil look upon her. I thought about taking a few pieces of this rock and placing it in my refugium in my tank and seeing if it will have better luck there. I was hoping that you can provide an answer or even a suggestion as to how to proceed on my dilemma, it is now coming up on the seventh week and I don't see any end to this.  <I also bought live rock from Drs. Foster&Smith. Mine took three weeks to cure. I'm thinking maybe you should try a different nitrite test kit and see if the readings are the same. Zero ammonia for that long should result in zero nitrite. Did you ever test the nitrate level in the curing tub? That's the next stage of the bio curve and am wondering what that level is. James (Salty Dog)> 

Live rock from hell Hello James After reading your e-mail, I tested the nitrate level and found it to be in the 50-100ppm according to my Red Sea test kit, I also have a Salifert test kit and it shows levels close to 100 ppm. The nitrite kit I use is FasTest which I use in testing my existing tank.  <The nitrate level doesn't surprise me, it tells be the bio cycle is taking place. What I would do Frank, is vac all the debris out of the curing tub, then do a 100% water change. I think you will see the nitrite level drop. If not, do try another nitrite test kit. James (Salty Dog)> 

Live rock from hell Good Morning Thank You James... <You're welcome>  I was thinking that last night after I sent you the e-mail so I prepared water and I'm going to do that today. Keeping fingers crossed and hopefully this will do the trick. One other thing, you got me thinking on those test kits and this morning I did a barrage of testing, trying to sort out what is accurate and it boggles my mind that I can use 3 different manufactures and get 3 different results, even if I repeat the testing with the same kits, I get different readings.  I checked the codes on them and they are all within a year of expiring.  Think the aquarium hobby needs to have some sort of guidelines for manufactures because it seams they just feeding on us. I will e-mail you in a few days and let you know how it worked out.  Have a great day and thx again.  <Frank, you have to remember that the cost of these test kits pretty much limits how much accuracy can be had for the money. I think they pretty much warn you whether it's good or bad. Good test kits are available from LaMotte and Hache. You won't get them for $7.95 though. Do a Google search for these names, they sell direct and they do list the prices. Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> 

Live Rock From Hell? Hardly >Hello again >>Hello, Marina today. >I'm following up on my live rock from hell, I did as James suggested and changed 100% of the water and siphoned every drop of detritus from my Rubbermaid. >>Very good, next time I strongly suggest you do this from the get go. For myself, were I to pay a premium price (even if not) I would do everything I could to ensure the rock retains as much life in situ as possible. To that end, we do not wish to kill said organisms via toxic ammonia and nitrite levels, etc. Very large water changes, on a daily basis if necessary (you can save a little money on salt mix by mixing to a slightly lower salinity - around 1.020-1.018 can work fine), are the methods I've used in both home/hobby and commercial applications.  Also, if you have an extra, try dropping a protein skimmer in that skanky tank of live rock and let it do its thing, too (I believe WetWebFotos has archived a diagram of a DIY soda bottle skimmer - perfect for such an application or in a pinch). Remember also, live rock already has nitrifying (and denitrifying) bacteria present within, but you can kill them off with high ammonia/nitrite. Better, I believe, to prevent that and just get the rock through the inevitable die-off due to shipping. I've found that these methods can also shorten curing time if applied diligently (though not a guarantee of shortened time, we are talking about a highly variable product here). >I began re-testing that evening and my nitrite levels were still evident but not as high as before. I then proceeded to purchasing another test kit, I found a Salifert kit at one of the LFS. >>Excellent, very good brand/kit for the price. I cannot recollect whether or not James also suggested LaMotte or Hache, about the best quality kits a hobbyist can find without going through setting up a proper laboratory. We rely on these kits for a lot, the kits themselves must be reliable for us in turn. >The Salifert kit did not register as much as nitrite as the FasTest but nitrite is still present and has leveled off now at .6 and nitrates are beginning to climb again, the last I checked, they are at 50ppm.  >>Sounds to me as though it's all on its way, my friend. I would tend to trust the Salifert (Dutch manufacturer, if I recollect) more than the FasTest. SeaChem is a U.S. manufacturer, about the same quality in my opinion, but more readily available. >My question is, Do I let the rock sit and cure on its own or do I change the water again after another week? >>I'd keep changing water *as necessary* - now. A 50% change should bring about a drop in nitrate to around 30-40ppm at *least*. I'd do that presently, and continue testing as you are. If there is anything dying that is still present, remove it with the old salt water, scrubbing if necessary, and this will help prevent those readings from coming back up. Anything that's necrotic likely won't come back, better to just remove, thusly improving survivors' chances of continuing to do so, this includes detritus. At this point, though high, the nitrate readings aren't such a worry as detectable nitrite is. I do hope this "live rock from hell" turns out to be "righteous live rock"! Keep on changin', the times they are a-changin', the water he is a-changin'.. Once the nitrite comes down, you can slow down on the water changes, and the rock should be ready for use in two-three weeks. Marina P.S. THIS is the time and place to look for unwanted creatures, namely mantis shrimps! 

Curing live rock Hello, I have a few question and hopefully you can help me. Received a 30 pound box of uncured Lalo Tonga live rock from liveaquaria.com. The first problem that I noticed right away was the rock was cold (not ice cold but not warm). There was no sign of life at all just dead mushy stuff like sponges that I removed and anything else that smelled bad. SO after that I put each rock in my ten gallon of saltwater and washed it off with a powerhead one at a time. then they went into a 20 gal for curing. Water became cloudy and started to give off a smell. <Normal> Ammonia was off the chart greater than 8ppm. <Normal>  pH 8.2, salinity 1.024. temp 76. I have two power heads Rio 800, maxi-jet 1200 circulating water, Hot magnum for carbon filtration, sea clone protein skimmer (I know how you guys feel about that skimmer but I already had it sitting around it has to be good for a 20 gal at least I have AquaC remora on my other tanks). Okay so the next day I removed rock from tank and found more mushy stuff to take off. I hurried the first time. I did a 50% water change and tested ammonia again still off the chart. I tried to siphon most of the dead stuff floating around. The third day still no change in ammonia even after a 50% change again. The water seemed a little less cloudy after water change. I'm concerned that the exposure to high level of ammonia will kill the rock if not already dead on arrival. Should I not be changing my water so frequently should I leave it alone and let it cycle. I found one dead crab seemed dead for a while. All the small clams on the rock were open with nothing in them. That gave me the feeling that this rock was out of the water for sometime. Is liveaquaria a good supplier or did I get robbed. <They are a good supplier.>  Who ships good live rock? Have you ever heard of Lalo live rock  <Yes, have some myself.> is that another name for Tonga deepwater? One more question I have a actinic blue strip light 15watts can I use that as a light for now on the rock and how long should it be on. I have pc lighting but using then on the tank that the rock is going into. Sorry about the long email I just want to make sure I'm on the right page here.  <Andy, the first thing you should have done is read the flyer they pack with the live rock on how to cure. You shouldn't have scraped anything off. Some of the sponges etc will come back. Your rock will not show it's best for at least three months. DO NOT use lights. With the high level of nutrients in the tank, you will get an algae bloom only God could cure. You will have super high ammonia readings that will drop in time. Read here. http://www.google.com/custom?q=Curing+live+rock&sa=Google+Search&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com. James (Salty Dog)> Thanks <You're welcome> 

Tank Cycling die off Hi again, Thanks for your advice. Right now I'm just letting the tank balance it self. But I noticed that a slimy white stuff is spreading on the rocks. Everything on the live rocks is dead. I think I had a full die off. I asked the person in the LFS how long the live rocks were in their tank before I purchased them, and he said within 24 hrs. So it was uncured. My question is, what is the white slimy stuff on my live rocks that is spreading? Should I remove them and the dead worms?  <You should do at least a 30% water change and try to siphon as much of the slime and dead stuff off.>  And also I've kept my tank at a salinity of 1.020, is it too low for the cycle?  <It may not help what will survive/come back on the rock. I would keep it at 1.024.>  I've kept this salinity to prevent the parasites entering my tank.  <The parasites are nothing to worry about now. If any were in there, by the time the rock is cycled (three to four weeks), there shouldn't be any in the system.> Thank you very very much for your help!! <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> 

Follow-up to Marine Stocking question - 7 March 2005 Quick follow-up question.... everything you said helped and made this process much clearer for me.  Now to the live rock, what type would you suggest, how much for my size of tank (30 gallon), and how long of a curing time before you can add fish?  <You can buy already cured rock or you can buy uncured rock. Curing time depends on the rock itself. How long it has been out of the water. How its shipping went. What type of filtration you have on the tank itself. For instance, I know of some Marshall Island rock that has been curing in a few short weeks and some other types that are taking up to two months. But again it truly depends on the rock itself. About how much rock, most people recommend a pound or two per gallon. This also can vary because some rock weighs heavier. When I place rock in my tank I look for a couple of things. I want to be able to have water flow over the rock and through the rock and I like to see nice colors and growth on the rock and not just coralline algae. As for when you can add it, I would put the new rock into the tank AFTER you finish letting it go fallow. Otherwise you'd just have to start all over again. So when you feel your tank is ready. . . at least four to eight weeks after getting everything out you can add your new rock.>

Curing live rock 6 March 2005 Hi crew!  <Hi Doug, MacL here with you today.> I was given some live rock from someone who had neglected their tank for a long time. Shapes are nice and it has a lot of coralline growth. Unfortunately, it also has every bad kind of algae you could ask for including bubble and Caulerpa (in the rock where you don't want it).  <Youchers, lots of work but well worth it.> After removing what I can, I plan to keep the rock in covered tubs (complete darkness) with a couple of power heads for at least 6-8 weeks (changing the water a few times of course). Will that kill off even the bubble and Caulerpa algae or will it just grow right back out?  <Algae cannot live without light so yes it should kill it. Unfortunately what dies then becomes detritus and will need to be taken out of the curing bins.> Also, the rock is loaded with HUGE bristle worms (most thicker than a pencil and 8"+ long).  <This is a bit more complicated. Personally I love bristleworms but I do know most people do not like them. I don't know if you would be interested but you might check to see if there is a local club or pet store that would be interested in taking the bristleworms. Lots of people with deep sand beds really like them.>  I got a lot of them out by soaking in high salinity, then removing. However, we have a great reef now with plenty of small bristle worms for the sandbed - and Debbie REALLY DOES NOT want these monster worms in our tank.  <Understood!>  The guy said he had had some "tiny but bad starfish" at one time too, so I'd like to get rid of everything that crawls in this batch (usually don't - but out tank is stable and we don't want to take a chance on problems). I'm not worried about the coralline or the pods (we have plenty to repopulate the rock).  <Some people have gone to the extreme and boiled their live rock when in this situation but frankly that is not something I recommend. I think you just lose too much.>  I'd love to keep some of the beneficial bacteria - but if necessary we can repopulate too. How can I be pretty sure I have removed all of the worms and their offspring? Will it hurt to literally drench them in vinegar or soda water - and would that make all of the worms come out?  <I know lots of people use the soda water to get out different shrimps and worms.>  If so, should we pour it over them in darkness and leave for a few minutes or literally soak the rocks?  <Generally it's used by pouring it over, especially into crevices and holes.>  Any advice and any other ideas would be greatly appreciated!!!  <Multiple information on curing live rock on the site.> 

Curing live rock Hi Crew,  <Hello> Based on what I have read it is seems that die-off during curing is a combination of being out of water during shipping time and the fact that its new home can only simulate its original home to a very small degree. I have as yet not had any live rock but I would think that aside from filtration benefits it is probably very exciting to discover all the living things that pop out of it over time. And the consensus seems to be to keep lights off so as not to have an algae problem. If I would decide to risk the algae problem by leaving the lights on would I at least be rewarded by having some organism stay alive that otherwise would not.  <You may have some, but in my opinion it isn't worth the end result. James (Salty Dog)><<In mine it is. RMF>>

pH problems... not really Hello, I have a problem. My 75 gallon tank has been cycling for about 2 and a half weeks now, and when I check the pH it reads about 7.9. So I went out and bought Reef Buffer to raise the pH to 8.3. It did but the next day I checked and it read 7.9 again! Could you tell me why it wont keep a pH of 8.3 when cycling? Thank you write back soon. <This low and continually dropping pH is due to the cycling process itself... it's reductive... as in redox/acid-base chemistry... I would not worry re the 7.9 pH... and only add a "dose" of the buffer product if it drops below 7.8... in a month or so, when the tank is fully cycled, you can switch out some water, do some other things that will boost it. No worries. Bob Fenner> 

Live Rock/Cycling Hi! I'm starting a new 80g reef tank and I'm in the cycling process. But I noticed that after I placed the live rocks in my tank, the small life forms in the rocks quickly died off,  <That's exactly what it's called, die-off. You will experience this through the live rock cycling process. What you are really going to see will not be evident until three to four months.>  ... especially the tube worms. The mushroom anemone's that came along the live rocks are also not doing so well, but I think this is acceptable during the cycle. Is it normal that they die quickly when they are put in the tank? Or there could be something in my water that is affecting them? <I'm sure the rock is uncured. The die-off is largely due to the high ammonia levels that this die-off is causing. This cycle will take anywhere from three to four weeks before the ammonia levels will be acceptable.>  Maybe the salt hasn't dissolved completely? If so, what should I do since the live rocks are already in there?  <Wait for the cycle to complete. Just have patience.>  I mixed the salt (Tropic Marin) 24 hrs using a RO purified water before putting the live rocks. My skimmer was installed after the live rocks was placed in the tank. I hope you can help me with this problem.  <Ryan, this is not a problem, it is normal. Here is some reading you can do while you're waiting. http://www.google.com/custom?q=Live+rock%2Fcycle&sitesearch=wetwebmedia.com. James (Salty Dog)>

Old dried live rock Hi First off I love your site! I have a question, I had a failed 55 gal reef tank about 1 year ago, after getting 80lbs of live rock I discovered that I had a pesky mantis shrimp. I spent a month trying to trap the shrimp, but I could not get him, and he slowly ate all of my fish. Out of frustration I pulled all of the rock out and put it in my back yard. So now 1 year later I have a new 55 gal tank that I am setting up. I remembered that I had the rock outside, but when I went to get the container that I put it in, all the rock was on the ground, some buried in dirt and all of them under snow. So I took all the rock inside and put it in a Rubbermaid container and added water and a heater and some powerheads. I let the rock thaw out for 1 day then I scrubbed it clean and soaked it for another day, then I let it dry for 2 days. Do you think the rock will be safe to use in my tank, should I bleach the rock or just leave it as is, the rock seems fine it has no smell and is clean.  <Mike, as long as no pesticides, weed killers or fertilizers were in contact with it you should be OK. James (Salty Dog)> 

Live Rock Salty Dog, Gracias.<You're welcome> One further question...what happens to "live rock" when its exposed to fresh water? <It dies unless it is very short term. James (Salty Dog)>

Live Rock Curing/Holding System <Hello, Ryan with you today.> I'm thinking about importing live rock for resale and I need info. on the best way to keep the rock. I would like to build my own holding tanks. <Before I get into your query- Please do your best to take time and use proper grammar and punctuation. After all, these are posted for aquarists to read, take note of, and search within.> I'm thinking about two tanks 8'x8'x18''to 24'' deep made out of marine grade plywood and epoxy coated. One tank for curing and one for the cured rock. What is the best way to heat the tanks? I know I'm going to need some big skimmers, lots of sand, saltwater and some good MH lighting. I have a 2000sf. building to house this in so I have plenty of room. Any help with lighting/filtration/heating would help out greatly.  <Ed, the best thing you could do at this point is go out and grab a copy of the Book of Coral Propagation, by Anthony Calfo. It's the best layman's guide to building these types of systems that I have seen. 20 bucks on the book is a drop in bucket if you nail this system on the head. This is a pretty serious setup you're talking about, and I don't believe that a quick paragraph of answers from me will suffice! Good luck, Ryan>

Did I kill my Live Rock? Guys, <Gary>             Hello. While I was away for the week I lost aeration to one of my 50-gallon bins and the LR that was curing turned black and I need to know if there is any way I can save the LR or is it a loss? Thanks, Gary. <Take it out, rinse it off... with good pressure from your garden hose or utility sink (yes, freshwater), and place back in newly made up seawater... very likely worth salvaging what you can... use if for nothing else, base rock with some new/er rock on top... will inoculate the rest. Bob Fenner> Adding live rock, red-colored fish Hello Crew, I have a 55 gallon tank that has been running for about three years. About five months ago, I decided to create a reef tank. I do not have the 'typical' live rock. The tank contains various pieces of dead coral I got from the beach (I live in front of the beach in Puerto Rico and found some good, large pieces of dead coral). <Should be fine> I was thinking of changing these pieces with Fiji live rock, since it is more aesthetically pleasing and allows a better accommodation of corals. I was planning on doing it slowly, since it will cause a rise in ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. Would it be beneficial if, after the curing the rock, I let them running in a 30 gallon tank for about 1-2 months? <Yes> Would this keep the tank from recycling? <Mostly yes... likely will still experience a "mini-cycle".> Also, can you guys give me a recommendation for a red colored fish? I had thought of adding a tomato clown, but I am not sure how he will react to my ocellaris clownfish and Cirrhilabrus solorensis. I eliminated the other options, a Flame Hawkfish or a peppermint hogfish, since they will probably eat my hermit crabs and shrimps. Thanks in advance, Robertino <Perhaps a Red/Flame Hawkfish... or a Flame Angel? Bob Fenner> 

Curing live rock Hello, my name is Julio.  I have a 30g tank that I have had for 6 months and I have 40lbs of live rock, 2 pair of clown fish, 2 watchman shrimp goby, 6 hermit crabs, 3 snail, and 1 shrimp cleaner.  I have a few questions; first the live rock I have in the tank has a little bit of purple on it, is that good or bad? <The purple is coralline algae and is something you want. This prevents nuisance algae from growing on that area.> normal or not?  If not what should I do?  Second question is I have just bought 10lbs of Indonesian live rock for $3.99/lb. that is supposed to be cured, should I just introduce it to my tank or leave it in a bucket and if so when is it ok to introduce it? What way should I introduce it without harming my fish because they are very healthy? <The first thing you want to do is smell the rock. If it has a hint of rotten eggs, then it isn't safe to put in your tank. In this case you almost need another tank or large plastic pail to put the rock in and circulate water with a powerhead. If the rock isn't fully cured, this process could take up to three weeks.>  Is it bad to mix two different types of live rock together? <No danger>  If so why?  Also I noticed that on the Indonesian LR I bought the top of it is like a whitish light green color and the bottom of it is like a clay brown color...is that bad?...if so why?  What can I do to make it better? Or did I get ripped off with some bad live rock?  Hope I'm not asking to many questions. <Live rock could take several months before it reveals what is actually attached to it. The white/green color is just a film of algae on it. No worries again. If you have to cure the rock use no lighting as the water conditions will be ideal for growing nuisance algae.>  thank you  <Good luck. James (Salty Dog)> 

Stinky Rock and Damaged Starfish! Hi, <Hi there! Scott F. here tonight!> I just purchased 45 pounds of Fiji live rock. I put it in  a tank to let it cure like the directions said. I noticed that after a few days, all of the rock has gotten this white slimy coating all over it. I've purchased the same rock before and it never did this. Do you know what it could be. <Hard to be certain, but this type of "coating" is generally necrotic material that is collecting on the rock surface. A routine part of the curing process for live rock. It is recommended that you use a turkey baster or small powerhead directed into the rock to blast this material off. Then, you'd simply siphon out this stuff and add fresh saltwater. Aggressive protein skimming during the curing process helps, too.> Also noticed a lot of worms. Some are pinkish and some are white. What are they? Are all of these worms bad for my tank? Is there a faster way to get rid of them other than plucking them all out with a pair of tweezers? They are so gross! <Well, they could be any number of possible worms which reside in the rock. There are lots of different types, such as Cirratulids, Terebellids, Syllids, Spinoids, etc., to name just a few. Many are harmless scavengers that are actually beneficial to your system, ugly though they may be!> Also, the rock has this weird smell and it's funking up the whole room. Is this normal? <A normal part of the "curing" process. Remember, the rock has been through a lot on the way from the reef to your tank, and many organisms in and on the rock die off and decay. That's all the more reason to employ a holding tank or bucket with a good protein skimmer, some activated carbon, and a regular water change schedule. Just keep up the water changes and skimming and allow the rock some time. This smell will definitely subside.> One other question. I have some Starfish in a different tank that I've had for over a year and there legs are missing. Everybody was fine one day and the next there missing some body parts. What causes this? I've checked my levels and everything is zero, ammonia was next to zero so I did a 25% water change. What's going on? <Well, it's hard to be 100% certain. Often, these animals will lose appendages during the acclimation process, or as a result of stress endured during this process. It's certainly possible that the creatures are being nipped at by another inhabitant in your tank. Do keep an eye on the water quality in your system, and continue to observe the animals carefully.> I really liked my Little Red Starfish and now he's missing a leg. Does that mean he will die soon? <Not at all. If the water conditions are up to par, and if you maintain a relatively stress-free tank, there is a very good chance that the animal will be fine. Echinoderms are legendary for their strong regenerative capabilities. Don't give up!> The other 2 are the sand-sifting Starfish. Any help would be great. <Hope that the insights outlined here are of use to you. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

- Ice Storm Power Loss - We had a huge ice storm here which cut power to over 150,000 people... basically our entire town. <No fun... have been through a couple of these.> I had no power, nor a generator for 5 days.  We had to leave the house due to the extreme cold. Coming home today, as expected, everything in the saltwater tank is dead.   All I can try to do now is salvage the live rock, if possible.  After running my tank for 5 years, with little hitches, I'm faced with a problem.  Should I look at the live rock NOW as basically uncured and try to salvage it by attempting to cure it with a heater etc outside the tank? <I'd cure it in the tank, might as well let all settle back in together.> The stench is tremendous... mostly from the die off of the live rock, I think. <Quite likely.> I'd like to try and save what I can, any thoughts? <Well... what's to save? I mean the rock itself will be starting from scratch. I'd run some activated carbon in your filtration system to get rid of the smell, and then get a couple of new pieces of live rock to re-seed the rock in the tank. Would let all cure in the tank... I'm assuming you have a protein skimmer. Things will make a comeback. Sorry to hear of your losses, but much better that you and your family are safe. Cheers, J -- > Live Sand and Live Rock Curing 9 Jan 2005 Hey guys. <Hi Stephan, MacL here with you tonight.> I have been having problems receiving your reply on my last e-mail! I figured you guys might have been off for the holidays? Anyways I will try again with some questions. I getting ready to order my Fiji LR for my 180 gal. reef. I going to start with 180 lbs and perhaps more later depending on how it will fit with the aquascaping design. Is buying all of the live rock at once the best way or should I buy and cure in smaller batches at a time. I have a former 100 gal. tank I can use for curing. Is best to cure it in the 100 gal. or should I cure it directly into the tank? I plan to put 5'' of sand on the bottom of the display. <Stephan, Sorry if you didn't get a timely reply. We weren't off for the holidays but not a lot of us were around. I know I personally didn't hold up my end like usual. So lets get to your questions and get you all fixed up.  Stephan, there really isn't going to be much difference except in the smell as you cure your live rock.  Honestly as far as doing it in one bunch of multiple bunches you really need to find a way to get it some circulation all around, and also be able to blow the nasty die off away from the rocks in my opinion. Most people prefer to add the sand first so that the live rock can help to feed the sand but you also get the die off from the rock on the sand so its really a toss up as to what you want. I personally think its worth the smell and the die off to feed the sandbed and bring it to life.>   Should this sand be added first before water and LR or after? <About adding the water, one of the best things I have found is to pour the water into a picture that's sitting in the sand if the sand isn't live yet. I prefer to add the water first with live sand and then cut the bag open.> Also, what kind of turnover rate should I aim for in a Cryptic refugium. <Depends entirely on what you keep in the refugium and the purpose of it. I will say I'm not familiar with the term Cryptic refugium. Sorry if I'm missing something. Maybe some more details?> What is the name for reef keepers' convention and when will it be held this year? <There is IMAC, the International Marine Aquarium Conference in June and then there is MACNA, Marine Aquarium Conference of North America in September. Both have websites online.> You guys provide a great service and I am very thankful. You guys rock! (live rock that is)<You are very kind!> Sincerely Stephan Gaudreau <Thanks Stephan, Take care, MacL>

LR Question Dear Crew, I just set up a 150 gal. tank with 150 lbs. of LR with a DSB and at 9 days my ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were at 0 so I fired up the lights and they have been on for 2 days.   This is my first attempt at a reef tank so I'm not familiar with the cycle that LR can go through. I read the FAQ and came close to my answer.  Some of my LR has turned lime green but it does not look like algae, it looks like someone has painted it with a thick coat of paint or frosted it. PH is 8.2 and SG is 1.024, any insight?  Thanks Steve <Hello, Steve.  It sounds like you have coralline algae growing in the tank.  It comes in many different colors and forms.  The most common are dark purple, green and pink.  It is a result of the different concentrations of calcium, magnesium, iron and alkalinity.  If you can't scrape it off of the Live Rock with your finger then I would say that it is a safe bet that it is coralline algae.  Good luck. MikeB.>

LR Question Dear Crew, <Steve> I just set up a 150 gal. tank with 150 lbs. of LR with a DSB and at 9 days my ammonia, nitrites and nitrates were at 0 so I fired up the lights and they have been on for 2 days.   This is my first attempt at a reef tank so I'm not familiar with the cycle that LR can go through. <The operative word here is "can"... you may have skipped the whole process with well-handled, pretty-much-cured materials> I read the FAQ and came close to my answer.  Some of my LR has turned lime green but it does not look like algae, it looks like someone has painted it with a thick coat of paint or frosted it. PH is 8.2 and SG is 1.024, any insight?  Thanks Steve <Some... tis algae of a few possible types... and more indication that your system is indeed cycled. Bob Fenner>

Is dry cured rock still cured? Hi guys- I have a question about cured dried rock.  Here in New Zealand we don't have "live" rock in that all rock that comes into the country must be dry and stored for 3 weeks before being released to the public.  So, we basically only have dead dry rock that some LFS "cure" before they sell it.  However when they sell it, it is dried out once again and put on the shelf.  Is this "cured" dry rock still cured, or will I have to go through some abbreviated curing process once again?  Can this rock create a spike in Ammonia, Nitrite, etc... if it (possibly in significant amounts relative to the size of the tank) is introduced directly into an existing system? A second question is related to the curing process.  Another LFS claims to have cured wet rock, i.e. they bring in this dead stuff and simply leave it in these covered tubs for months from which you make your selections for purchase.  There are no water changes done, no circulation, etc... simply a covered tub of water.  They claim that after this period the rock is go to go for your tank and no worry of ill effects to the water parameters.  Is this true?  The rock still looks to have quite a bit of crud remaining.  Maybe they will let me do a test of the tub water!?!? Thank you for your help, Steve <Steve, you will definitely have to cure the rock. Jim Gasta (Salty Dog) >

Is dry cured rock still cured? 12/31/04 Hi guys- I have a question about cured dried rock.  Here in New Zealand we don't have "live" rock in that all rock that comes into the country must be dry and stored for 3 weeks before being released to the public.  So, we basically only have dead dry rock that some LFS "cure" before they sell it.  However when they sell it, it is dried out once again and put on the shelf. <This is a baffling process.  I can understand why the country may not permit true live rock to be imported, but if it is allowed to dry, it will have lost most of it's usefulness as aquarium substrate.  It is especially odd that the stores would "cure" it only to re-dry it.> Is this "cured" dry rock still cured, or will I have to go through some abbreviated curing process once again?  Can this rock create a spike in Ammonia, Nitrite, etc... if it (possibly in significant amounts relative to the size of the tank) is introduced directly into an existing system? <This is the worst of all worlds... not only will all of the formerly living material on the rock be dead and ready to rot when placed in water, there won't be any bacteria to process the nitrogenous wastes.  You could probably get away with adding small amounts to an existing system, but large amounts could be disastrous.  Anytime rock is allowed to dry or even sit exposed for a day or two, some amount of a cycle will take place.> A second question is related to the curing process.  Another LFS claims to have cured wet rock, i.e. they bring in this dead stuff and simply leave it in these covered tubs for months from which you make your selections for purchase.  There are no water changes done, no circulation, etc... simply a covered tub of water.  They claim that after this period the rock is go to go for your tank and no worry of ill effects to the water parameters.  Is this true?  The rock still looks to have quite a bit of crude remaining.  Maybe they will let me do a test of the tub water!?!?Thank you for your help, Steve <Hopefully the water at least has salt in it!  While the process you described may allow bacteria to colonize the rock, it will do little else.  They may be correct that this will minimize the risk of placing it into an existing system, but little else can be said for it.  A major part of live rock is all of the life that is associated with it in ADDITION to bacteria.  If rock cannot be imported without a period of drying, all of that is lost.  The best that can be hoped for is that these beneficial critters will hitchhike on corals in sufficient numbers to establish a breeding population.  Best Regards.  AdamC.>

Cured live rock Hi to the wonderful people at WWM. Great site. My question has to do with fully cured live rock. <Mmm, sort of like concrete... is only more/less cured...> I am in the process of buying small quantities of live rock from my local fish store. A couple of weeks ago I bought two chunks about a pound each and they told me at the store it was fully cured and ready for the tank. I listened to them and put it straight in my tank when I got home. There was no apparent die off, but I think there were some nasty critters in it. It didn't take long and I noticed my maroon clown breathing very rapidly and gaping gills. <Mmm, did you detect a change in your water chemistry... like ammonia?> I treated in a quarantine tank with formalin, but it soon died off. <Formalin is very toxic... a biocide> A couple of days later my yellow tang showed the same symptoms and I treated it with a formalin bath followed by a freshwater dip, but it too died. <Uhh...> I have since taken the two pieces of live rock out of my tank and into the quarantine tank. <Ahh, good!> My question is this. If I want to continue to buy live rock from my LFS and they tell me it is cured, what can I do to rid it of the bad things and still keep the good ones? Can I dip the live rock in freshwater for about five minutes, or will this kill off everything? Thanks for your help! <Oh! Quarantine it ahead of use for a few weeks... this will usually starve the larger pest animals (Mantis, Pistol Shrimp, larger Polychaetes...)... into coming out, where they can be easily removed. Bob Fenner> Cleaning live rock hi crew, my friend told me to ask you any questions I may have regarding my new saltwater tank and so I am hoping you can help me, I was doing my first water change and decided to clean off my live rock, cause it looked all fuzzy and now my rock has turned white, did I kill it, and will it come back to life? <... cleaned off... how?> I did not do nearly enough research before jumping into it now I feel awful that I may have killed my rock. what do I do? please help me. thanks, Stephanie <Not to panic... I would leave the rock in place... if not much seems to be (re) growing on it, consider adding a few pounds more on top of it... this will help seed, inoculate the older rock. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock, curing, water quality Hello, <Hi there> I jus set up a 155 gal tank, with live sand and live rock, the water was already cycled, should I still wait few weeks to introduce some fish and corals? <Mmm, if I understand you, yes... a few weeks to see if the LS, LR will cause another re-cycling event> I am using a sump with bio balls the skimmer and miracle mud with sand bed and Caulerpa, and some carbon. My Live rock has a chocolate like color on it how could I clean it and it is full of calcareous alga, should I take it off? <I would use a powerhead or other pump discharge to just blast off any loose material... the light brown stuff is likely algal colonies... diatoms, dinoflagellates, blue-greens et al.... competing for space... will settle down on its own. And leave the calcareous (coralline) algae be... you want this life> Could I brush the rock to remove the dirtiness from it with a toothbrush? What supplements should I add to my water? Kalkwasser, calcium in liquid and what else? <If you check your water chemistry and it is shy of alkaline reserve, calcium concentration, you might add some of these materials... otherwise, water changes will likely be all you need/want to do to provide mineral. Bob Fenner> Well Thank you much.

Using spray bars to cure live rock

Dear Sirs,
     I have been trying to find any article(s) on curing live rock with PVC spray bars or nozzles in a bathtub like container but to no avail. 
     Do you know of any articles or books that I might find out if this can be done and how to go about doing this?
    I would appreciate any help you could give me. Dear Mr. Fenner,     Hello my name is Mickael Macht and I live in Louisiana. My question to you is-Have you ever heard of anyone using a row of spray bars to cure live rock in a bathtub type container?     We have 3 different types of setups:     1)  we use a soaker hose,     2)  we use  2 rows of PVC pipe on each side with spray           nozzles that spray a fine mist on the rock,     3)  we use a single PVC pipe with slots cut into the bottom         of the pipe every 3/4 inch for the full length of the pipe.     The rock is placed on egg crate w/PVC pipe to support the rock above the water level.  The only water that touches the rock is from the spray nozzles, spray bars or the soaker hose.  Are we doing this the right way? ;Think I've seen this before... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm and on to the Related FAQs, Articles... Linked, in blue, at top. The tools you mention can work. Bob Fenner>

Phosphate problems and curing live rock Hi- << Hi. >> I hope you can help with some answers on my issues and concerns.  Here they are: I have a 55 gallon tank up and running about 10 months.  I have about 40 lbs of live rock, about 40 lbs of live sand, a BakPak 2 protein skimmer with baling removed and the following: 1 firefish goby 2 damsels about 3 inches 2 damsels about 1 inch 1 yellow tang 1 large seahorse (yes I know that she should be in a separate tank, but she is doing fine.  I hand feed her so she gets plenty to eat) 3 feather dusters 2 peppermint shrimp 2 fighting conch assorted snails and small hermits 1 greenstar polyp about 5 inches round 1 Florida Ricordea about 6 polyps 1 Sarcophyton, small Sounds like a lot but really isn't. I get about 3/4 cup of skimmate from the skimmer once per week.  My water quality is pretty much zero across the board (nitrates run under 10 most of the time) with calcium at 450 and here is one of my problems, phosphate at 0.07.   I do 15% water changes weekly and also polish the water with a diatomaceous earth filter weekly. I have been experiencing both diatom and green film algae.  The snails do a decent job of controlling the green, but the diatom still covers much of the sand each day.  I realize this is the phosphate and what I have done is added a deionizer to clean the make up water (about 60% of the tank water is now from the deionizer which was done over the past three weeks).   I do try to limit the amount of food I put in the tank and I do clean up the uneaten food as best I can.  What else can I do to get the phosphate down? << Here you go, try this new product called something like Rowaphos?  I've heard some really good things about it from some great authors.  Supposedly the way to go. >> I am in the process of curing another 30 lbs of live rock, which I bought from Dr's Foster and Smith (Lalo rock-great quality by the way) which should be ready to go into the tank in about 2-3 weeks.  I noticed that the "smell" has gotten slightly better (still there) and after 6 days of curing, there still is no measurable nitrite in the water.  The rock sits in a plastic curing bin with two power heads, an airstone and a heater (don't have an extra protein skimmer) Am I doing something wrong? << Nope, sounds good.  I would have had all the rock in the tank months before adding fish, so you are taking a chance there. >> Shouldn't the nitrite be increasing? << Yes, but then quickly falling.  Your nitrate should be rising. >> Last question.  I am seriously thinking of going to a larger tank, at least 90 gallon.  Since it has to go into the same spot where my 55 is sitting, I'm not sure of the best way to empty one so I can move it but not quite fill the other. << Many friends, and many buckets. >> Do you have anything I can read up on regarding that? Many Thanks for your help. Larry Joachim <<  Blundell  >>

Quarantining Live Rock? Yep! Hello Crew, <Scott F. your Crew member tonight!> I have just had a guy drop off about 65 lbs of live rock at my house.  It is still wet, but there is no coralline algae or growth on it.  The color is really pale gray.  He only lives about five minutes from my house, but I have never seen his  tanks.  I have a 75 gallon reef set up ( have a 120 waiting to be set up) with about 60 lbs of coralline covered rock.  My tank is doing great ( I have had a bubble tip anemone split and both are doing great, and a branching hammer that looks like it is about to separate into another head!!)  So my question is how long should I wait to introduce this new rock into my tank.  I immediately put it into  a tub with an air stone, so if he was truthful it was only out of water ten minutes tops.  There  is no foul smell coming from it so should I cure it to be safe, or just add a little at a time and do water changes in the holding tub until it is all in. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. <I think that you're on the right path. I'd keep it in the tub for a few weeks, just to be sure. If there is some die-off, or if this turns out not to be "cured" rock, you don't want to learn that in your display tank! Treat it like fresh, uncured live rock. Frequent water changes and even skimming in the container will help. The time will also serve to "quarantine" the rock before placing it into your display. Most parasites will perish after several weeks without a host.> I love your site, it has helped me on a wonderful journey into the reef tank world....I don't think I could have had such great luck with it if it was not for your FAQs.  Thanks a million ....Heather Leneave <We're happy to be here for your journey, Heather! Good luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Nitrites and little white bugs Hi Blundell!  I have some general questions: << Hi. >> 1.    I recently mixed a batch of artificial salt into purified water in a 7.7 gallon tank.  No fish, no rock, no sand, no nothing.  Just a power head. I've had it running for about a week and when I took the PH today it was at about 8.1 or so but the Nitrite level was .05!  My question is what is causing it? << I'm guessing some very small impurities in the salt.  But that is nothing to worry about.  If you were to add one teaspoon of flake food to that tank and test the water in a week that number would be much much higher. >> There's nothing in the water to produce ammonia!  Am I missing something? 2.    I have a 20 gallon container that I am using to cure live rock in.  I have an 800 gph power head circulating the water.  It's been in there for 3 days and I am using natural sea water. << You are fortunate to have that resource. >> I took the Nitrite and, as expected, it is off the charts.  I took the PH and it is at about 7.3 or so.  Do I need to take steps to raise up the PH or do I concentrate on getting the Nitrite level to 0 first. << I'd change water.  I think that will solve both areas during this cycling process. >> 3.    Is there anything I can add to lower the Nitrite level more quickly in either established tanks? << Hmmm, not really.  I think move live sand and rock always helps, and then just giving it time. >> 4.    I am seeing what looks like little white bugs is the best description I can use for these little critters in my 24 gallon marine tank.  They are on the glass.  I have some live rock in there, a Clown Trigger, a small eel, a couple of damsel fish and two small anemones.  What are these things and how can I get rid of them? << Oh don't get rid of them.  Most likely copepods which are very beneficial to your system.  You want as many odd little creatures as you can get in there. >> Thanks so much for all your help! Martin <<  Blundell  >>

Cycling live rock Hello WWM crew,   I have a few questions. I just started my first saltwater tank this week. I got 150 lbs of live rock Friday and cleaned off all the dead stuff and raised it well put it in my tank and the past few days the ammonia has been off the charts. I did 1 30% water changes each day. still ammonia is off the charts. I used "Cycle" to help speed up the cycling process as per the LFS. I also have my Protein skimmer AquaC remora Pro running and I've been pulling a watery\slime of yellow skimmate off about every 8-9 hrs. With the high ammonia readings did I kill off my LR. << No.   I think it will still be all okay.  Not sure how much sand you have but that makes a difference.  I think the main thing you are seeing here is why adding 150 pounds of rock at one time may not be the best way to go.  I will take a while to cycle all that when you didn't have biofiltration already established. >> Would it be safe to add Ammo Lock 2 to detoxify the Ammonia so I can try to save my LR. << I think you would be better to add a couple cups of sand and 5 gallons of water from a friends tank.  I would recommend you do this a week before adding your live rock, but it is better late than never in this case. >> Please Help. You guys are the best, Joe <<  Blundell  >> Rock & Sand Questions (9/8/04) Hi Wet Web Gods! <Mere Mortal Steve Allen at your service.> I am still in the process of  building this 180 gal. reef tank of mine and I am getting close to getting things started. <cool> I have several questions regarding the curing of live rocks and the seeding of sand. My plan for this system is to have a 35 gal. upstream refugium (24"x28") with a deep layer of sand 5" sand and Gracilaria growing for nitrate export. <Do learn of the care requirements of this macroalgae--it can be difficult to grow due to high flow requirements. Take a look at Chaetomorpha too.> The surface of the main display is 49"x30" minus 2 corner overflow. <Interesting shape--a "standard" 180 is 72x24.> It was suggested to me to put a thin layer (1") of sand in the main display in conjunction with a deep layer 5-6" external refugium. <This is for aesthetics. Personally, I don't like the look of a bare-bottom tank.> If the best size for a refugium is 40% of main display's water volume <more is better>, this would mean a refugium of 72 gal. Since I only have a 35 gal. refugium it appears that I need to expand somehow. <Any is better than none.> Or it is the foot print that matters? <Volume is important: "The solution to pollution is dilution."> Would it be advantageous to create a DSB in the main display as well? <Yes, if the stocking plan can accommodate this.> Would the buffering capabilities increase or improve? <Yes> Since I will use aragonite as media will this combination produce too much calcium? <No. The calcium in the aragonite comes out slowly based on pH, alkalinity and Ca concentration in the water, among other factors.> Is there such a thing? <Yes, created when adding too much supplement. Can mess up alkalinity and cause precipitates in the tank.> I purchased a calcium reactor for this system. Will it still be useful considering the amount of aragonite dissolved? <I'd say this expensive piece of equipment is only necessary in reef tanks with a number of high calcium-consuming corals. Most tanks can get by with the sand bed, rock, and some supplementation with two-part liquids or Kalkwasser, not to mention regular water changes. Lots of info on WWM, elsewhere.> I plan on suspending all the live rocks above the sand anyway. Will the sand in both tanks need to get stirred and/or vacuum? <Stirring by appropriate creatures such as Nassarius snails and burrowing shrimps or fishes is plenty. For the 1" bed, I'd vacuum.> Can vacuuming kill the micro-fauna? <It will certainly remove a portion. One should not be too aggressive. Search FAQs for details.> As for rock work I'm going to go with uncured Fiji Live Rock. Does it come directly from the source via airplane? <No. There are middlemen involved.> I want to cure the rock in a separate vessel so I can build the structure in the display without being rushed. Should I still look for Mantis Shrimp or that has been taken care of? <Mantis shrimp are not all that common in Pacific LR, but can usually be detected and extracted during the curing/quarantine process. More info on this in curing and mantis FAQs> What would a safe photo-period be to preserve the Coralline Algae? <Hmm. I cured mine in Rubbermaid containers in the garage (stinky stuff--not nice in the house) with only a window for light and the coralline came through just fine. Read the curing articles/FAQs.> Can I seed sterile aragonite sand simultaneously with each batch of Live Rocks. Or  is there a better way? <I would not recommend sand in the curing vessel because you will need to do a lot of water changes and detritus-vacuuming. Better to put the sand in the tank and let the cured LR seed it. Another option would be to add Bio-Spira Marine to the tank with sand in it while waiting for the LR to cure. Great product, but not cheap.> And finally should I have different grain size in the main display than the refugium for the sake of variety of microfauna? <This can be useful to promote variety.> Thanks folks, Stephan Gaudreau <You're welcome. Hope this helps. BTW, I think you would find Bob Fenner & Anthony Calfo's book "Reef Invertebrates" a prudent investment for its outstanding 100 pages of info on DSBs, refugiums and macroalgae (in addition to the valuable info on all sorts of non-cnidarian inverts. It is available at Amazon.>

Curing live rock with the use of spray bars. Dear Mr. Fenner,     Hello my name is Mickael Macht and I live in Louisiana. My question to you is-Have you ever heard of anyone using a row of spray bars to cure live rock in a bathtub type container? <Yep... standard operating procedure in many places. Here at WSI in Fiji: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm>     We have 3 different types of setups:     1)  we use a soaker hose,     2)  we use  2 rows of pvc pipe on each side with spray           nozzles that spray a fine mist on the rock,     3)  we use a single pvc pipe with slots cut into the bottom         of the pipe every 3/4 inch for the full length of the pipe.     The rock is placed on eggcrate w/pvc pipe to support the rock above the water level.  The only water that touches the rock is from the spray nozzles, spray bars or the soaker hose.  Are we doing this the right way?                                                 Thanks,                                                  Mickael <Sounds about right... the "wholesale" LR folks use much larger wood tanks with heavy duty grates below for support... but otherwise, about the same technique. Bob Fenner>

Re: using spray bars to cure live rock Dear Sirs,     I have been trying to find any article(s) on curing live rock with pvc spray bars or nozzles in a bathtub like container but to no avail.      Do you know of any articles or books that I might find out if this can be done and how to go about doing this?     I would appreciate any help you could give me.                                                     Sincerely,                                                      Mickael <Do a quick search on www.WetWebMedia.com re. Bob Fenner>

Curing live rock. Dear WWM Crew, << Blundell this morning. >>   I'm in the middle of curing 45 lbs of liverock from Fiji, via Liveaquaria.com. For the first two weeks, I performed daily 100% water changes, scrubbing off all white fuzz at every water change. I don't know if it's a coincidence or due to starvation, but two things have happened simultaneously. I'm doing alternate day water changes since the rocks are fairly clean these days, and a whole bunch of worms that look like fat stubby bean sprouts crawl out and die each day. My ammonia levels have come down compared to two weeks ago, but since I only change the water every two days, the pH drops to 7.7/7.8. I've added some Seachem marine buffer and still the deaths continue. What's up with that? << Well that is all part of the process.  I would recommend just giving it time.  I think I would stop the water changes and just keep the rock in the tank cycling on its own.  The buffer additive isn't a bad idea, but with as much new salt as you were adding, it may have been unnecessary.  I would give it time.  Just wait a month or so and see what happens. >> Narayan <<  Blundell   >>

Live Rock Curing Temp? Hello WWM crew, <Hello, Ryan with you today.> I tried to find the answer to my question throughout the site before writing - honest. My question is regarding the maximum temperature and allowable temperature swings that would be acceptable in curing live rock.  Since I heard about the smell that can occur when curing I was planning to cure my live rock in my garage.  However, since we are entering August, it is possible the aquarium (125 gal) I would use to cure the rock could fluctuate into the 90s during the day (Northern Illinois).  While I could afford more heaters to keep the water at the higher temperature throughout the night, I can not afford a chiller to keep the water cool.  (Although I haven't yet, I am going to set up the aquarium with water and all the equipment: skimmer, power heads, power filters and run it for several days so I can observe the temperature fluctuations before any rock is added.)  Do you think it possible to cure rock with these conditions? <No, these conditions are simply too hot, and will kill the beneficial bacteria you're trying to cultivate.  Take a trash can, fill it with water, place it in the area you're interested in keeping the tank, and use a clip-fan to blow water ACROSS the surface.  Test the water throughout the day, and see how hot it really gets.  I would consider 75 to be the safe zone for life on the rock.  Sorry, but this stuff is too expensive to let you waste a batch of it!  Cheers, Ryan> Thanks, Bob Curing live rock and Herbivore choices 7/29/04 Thanks Adam. I'll pass on the tusk and the marine Betta! I'm currently finding out how smelly the process of curing live rock really is!!! BTW, I have Fiji live rock from LiveAquaria.com and it is waaaaay better than anything I've seen at any LFS (here in Rhode Island or in NYC) for 3 to 4 times as much. Having to cure it is the only downside!<Curing your own rock is a lot of smelly work, but you can end up with a far superior product.  Do keep up with the water changes for the good of your nose and the life on the rock!> As for herbivorous fish, would the flame angel be 'herbivorous' enough or would I really need a rabbit fish? I'd really like something less high strung than a tang, but more active than a blenny.  Thank You, Narayan <Centropyge angels are decent herbivores, but will probably get a lot of their diet from prepared foods you feed.  Most Tangs and rabbit fish are quite "energetic" to put it nicely, but not a lot of middle ground exists between them and blennies.  Do consider tangs of the genus Ctenochaetus (Bristletooths) like the Kole or chevron.  They tend to be fairly tolerant and are excellent herbivores.  Best Regards.  Adam>

Curing live rock with spray bars 7/12/04 Dear Sirs, <Wow, Not so formal!  We are all just fish geeks too.<g>.> I have been trying to find any article(s) on curing live rock with pvc spray bars or nozzles in a bathtub like container but to no avail. <Is suspect that you mean that you want to cycle rock for your own aquarium use by spraying the rock rather than submerging it?> Do you know of any articles or books that I might find out if this can be done and how to go about doing this?  I would appreciate any help you could give me.  Sincerely,  Mickael <Although I have heard of this technique being used for "curing" and holding live rock at or near the point of collection, I have never heard of anyone using it for cycling rock for use in their aquarium let alone seen it documented in print.  I would not suggest it.  Many of the desirable organisms may fail to survive the process due to air exposure or the physical pounding associated with the spray devices.  I would suggest curing or cycling the old fashioned way... as much water as is reasonably possible, lots of water movement, lots of water changes, close attention to pH and alkalinity and some light.  Being submerged in a large volume of water adds stability, dilutes pollutants and provides plenty of alkalinity.... all keys to bringing live rock through the cycle in good shape.  I hope this helps, and please feel free to write back with any further questions.  Best Regards.  Adam> Curing live rock with the use of spray bars 7/10/04 Dear Mr. Fenner, Hello my name is Mickael Macht and I live in Louisiana. <cheers, Michael... Anthony Calfo in Bob's stead> My question to you is-Have you ever heard of anyone using a row of spray bars to cure live rock in a bathtub type container? <yes... people have been doing/trying this for years. I recall first hearing of it in the early 1990's when importers were experimenting with more economical means of bringing live rock in from the Pacific. It worked for some folks using boats to ship rock by surface (!)... and by the time the boat docked weeks later, the rock was cured. They used shelves with basins underneath to catch and return the trickling water> We have 3 different types of setups: 1)  we use a soaker hose, 2)  we use  2 rows of PVC pipe on each side with spray           nozzles that spray a fine mist on the rock, 3)  we use a single PVC pipe with slots cut into the bottom of the pipe every 3/4 inch for the full length of to pipe. The rock is placed on egg-grate w/PVC pipe to support the rock above the water level.  The only water that touches the rock is from the spray nozzles, spray bars or the soaker hose.  Are we doing this the right way? Thanks, Mickael <it sounds interesting and possibly effective. If you can cure the rock in two weeks or less, it sounds like it has potential. Some concern for not keeping/encouraging micro-life and infauna that need to be submerged, but maybe serves the greater good overall by not being submerged if there was going to be a rough curing process (sparing the need for excessive water changes, skimming etc.). FWIW... I prefer to see rock cured underwater with very heavy skimming, buffering and water changes. I feel like to get more life forms to survive overall. Anthony>

Patience is a Virtue (Establishing a New System) Hello WWM crew!   <Hi there, Scott F. here with you tonight.> I need your expert advice. <Oh boy, that's added pressure...hah! hah!> I'll be setting up a 90-gallon reef tank in the next 2 weeks, and I'm trying to decide how I should let it run during the first month or so. The tank will have about 150 lbs. of live rock and just a sprinkling of sand on the bottom (no DSB). The lighting will consist of 4 x T-5's (65 watts each I believe) with reflectors and 2 x 150W MH HQI ice cap pendants (6500 K). All lights will be suspended about a foot above the tank. <Depending on what you are keeping, you may want to pull those pendants a bit closer to the water--say 6"-8".> The tank will be covered only by eggcrate.  There will also be a 30 gallon sump, a Deltec 1250 protein skimmer, a Deltec calcium reactor and a Deltec chiller. No refugium. I eventually plan to keep mostly SPS corals. FWIW, I was skeptical about the wattage of my lights since I plan to keep primarily SPS, but I've been assured by many people with years of experience that the lights I'm buying burn extremely bright (i.e., that it's not all about the wattage), and that they will be more than sufficient (feel free to disagree). <I do agree.  I personally use a combination of 150 and 250 Watt HQI pendants on my reef tank which is 20" high and get very good growth of SPS corals.> My question is whether I should run the tank during the first month (or longer) without any lights (and without any livestock added other than what comes on the live rock), or whether I should run the lights for the normal 12 hours a day. I believe I read in Eric Borneman's "Aquarium Corals" book that he recommends running the tank (presumably with the lights on) for a couple of months or more without adding any livestock to see what sort of interesting algae, etc. grow on the live rock. I have also read (I believe in Sprung and Delbeek's "The Reef Aquarium Vol. I") that if you run the tank for a month or so without running the lights, you won't encounter nuisance algae, and the denitrifying bacteria will actually benefit from the lack of light. I'm not sure which approach is better, and I'm interested in hearing your opinion. <I agree with this approach.  However, you will still encounter nuisance algae with a new tank start up because of abundant nutrients and immature nutrient export processes, AND light.  Light itself will not cause nuisance algae.  On the other hand, leaving a tank unstocked for some time will help foster great diversity of life from the live rock and sand.  If you're patient enough to hold off on adding fishes and corals until the other life forms get established, you can enjoy all sorts of different life forms that you wouldn't otherwise get to see.> Also, how long should I wait before adding livestock to the tank (and by "livestock", I mean herbivores such as snails and tiny ,hermit crabs)? <I would add the herbivores as soon as the tank has cycled.  Getting those guys in there before algae becomes a problem is a key to success.> Thanks! Keith <I hope this helps you out.  Regards, Scott F.>\

Setting Up Tank hello crew, <Hi Ed, MacL here> it has been  a long road to getting my tank set up and appreciate the help you have given me. <Congratulations> I have yet another ? for you. in regards to a new 120 gal set-up I plan on adding 1-1 1/2 inches of Carib sea Aragalive Fiji pink live sand and 120lbs of semi cured Fiji live rock. can I introduce the both at the same time? or would it be better to cure both  separately in different containers then introduce to the new tank? <I would do them together> also does the store bought Aragalive Fiji pink need to be rinsed?<No you don't want to rinse live sand>............. thanks for your patience ! ed<Sounds like you are on your way Ed, good luck.>

Using spray bars to cure live rock Dear Sirs,     I have been trying to find any article(s) on curing live rock with pvc spray bars or nozzles in a bathtub like container but to no avail.      Do you know of any articles or books that I might find out if this can be done and how to go about doing this?     I would appreciate any help you could give me.                                                     Sincerely,                                                      Mickael <None on the use of spray bars per se, but this is a common practice in the trade with newly collected and grossly cleaned (hand tools and spray nozzles) rock from the wild. Some pix and discussion is archived on www.WetWebMedia.com and I suggest using the Google search tool on the homepage to find it. Bob Fenner>

Curing live rock with the use of spray bars Dear Mr. Fenner,     Hello my name is Mickael Macht and I live in Louisiana. My question to you is-Have you ever heard of anyone using a row of spray bars to cure live rock in a bathtub type container? <Yes... a few companies in Fiji utilize this approach... it works well to remove a lot of surface material, large pest organisms like Mantis... even eels... while preserving a good deal of sedentary invertebrate life and algae>     We have 3 different types of setups:     1)  we use a soaker hose,     2)  we use  2 rows of pvc pipe on each side with spray           nozzles that spray a fine mist on the rock,     3)  we use a single pvc pipe with slots cut into the bottom         of the pipe every 3/4 inch for the full length of the pipe.     The rock is placed on eggcrate w/pvc pipe to support the rock above the water level.  The only water that touches the rock is from the spray nozzles, spray bars or the soaker hose.  Are we doing this the right way?                                                 Thanks,                                                  Mickael <Sounds good... see WetWebMedia.com for some pix of the FJ operations set-ups... they leave a good gap (maybe six inches) under their boxes to allow for muck et al. drainage and removal. Bob Fenner>

- Live Rock and More - Hi Crew I just got another 20 lbs of rock for my reef tank. I got it from Tampa Bay Saltwater and it is loaded with life. maybe too much in fact. I have it in a 20 gal qt and it has hard corals and small barnacles all over it. It also has some kind of mussel or clam on it that will snap close at times. It looks just like the rock complete with barnacles and dusters growing from it. My question is, What is the best way to get undesirables out/off of this very lively rock. <Actually... I'd leave that stuff intact and let it either die if it's going to or live if it's going to live. All of the items you list will contribute to a better balanced ecosystem.> Hi salt treatment?? <That would work.> Low salt treatment. <That would also work.> I don't want mantis shrimp in my tank. <Who says you have one?> Also, eventually I want to get a wrasse of some sort for my reef tank, however I have an open top w/ my canopy still on so I have an 8" wall around the edge of the tank. <That won't be enough - would be best to fabricate some form of top, pre-wrasse.> I have suspended halides. I have seen a bluesided wrasse at the LFS. Is it a big jump out risk? <Yes.> they have had one in their wide open corals tank for months and obviously it hasn't jumped out. <This is an eventuality, not a remote possibility. It's only a matter of time. Cheers, J -- >

Saving Himself the Hassle - And more LR Questions (this is called "a bone") >Marina, More Live Rock questions... >>Hi Devin. I don't know if you noticed, but the current crew is spread rather thinly till Memorial weekend. I've set up a notice on the daily page that all non-emergent questions will be delayed in answering. >The 90# of rock is still curing in my tank, the tank is cycled, but the rock is not fully cured yet.  >>Still have some die-off, eh?  >I am noticing a lot of very small particulate matter floating around in the tank, I am guessing this is normal die off from the Live Rock?  >>Not necessarily. This sounds gross, but I would remove it with a fine mesh net and smell it. If it's foul, then yes, you do have some die-off. Otherwise, I believe that it's just matter still breaking free from the live rock. If it smells like sea, then I'd drop a Magnum D.E. (diatomaceous earth) filter on it and polish the water. Of course, if you don't have one it's another expense that isn't necessary. I used these for customers' tanks when I had my setup/maintenance business (everyone loves sparkly water!). >Or is their something wrong with my filtration (wet/dry running at about 6X/hour turnover). Should I be running my skimmer now, will that help remove the particulate matter.  >>Oh yes! ALWAYS run the skimmer when curing (I thought for sure I'd let you know about that bit.. oops!). Always always. >I did a water change last week and rinsed all the LR off in saltwater. My ammonia is very low, but not 0, 0 nitrite and about 10 ppm nitrate, ph is about 8.2. >>Then you are NOT finished cycling, my friend. >Is it important to have a adjustable flow rate on the pump that runs the skimmer, I have a CAP 1800, I always hear you need to constantly adjust the skimmer, the only adjustment I have is the venturi valve to adjust air flow. >>Mmm.. You know, I'm not the best person to give you an answer on that. Scott, Jason, Kevin (most of the people who are currently out, too) all would likely be better able to help you with that question. My gut says that yes, it's probably good to be able to adjust the water flow rates, and I would think that could well be accomplished by adding a gate valve in FRONT of the intake. This would help to increase contact time with the micro-bubbles and the water in the column. >Should I could an adjustable flow rate pump for the skimmer? >>If you can add a pump, I would think that's another way of accomplishing the same ends. I'm a cheap.. wait, no, FRUGAL, woman, and would rather try the gate valve first, with a bypass if necessary to allow the pump to keep its full output. >thanks for your feedback. Devin >>Thanks for the bone you mean! (I love bustin' chops, it's all in good fun of course.) You're always welcome, Devin. Marina

Curing Live Rock, Water Sources... I have a new FOWLR system, 92g corner with a wet/dry sump, with built in skimmer.  mainly will be a fish tank with about 35# of LR and some snails, worms for algae removal and sand shifting.  I have  1" sand base with about 5-6X/hour of water turnover and a 36", 192 watt power compact lights. My first question is, since the tank is cycling right now with the live rock, I notice the rock is dying off, i.e. white spots, white fungus that looks like cob webs and some other black areas.  should I be concerned? <This is all part of the "curing period" with live rock. Unfortunately, there is a lot of die-off that occurs among the many life forms found in live rock. During the period of time from harvest to arriving in your tank, the rock takes a fair amount of abuse. Much life on the rocks will perish. What you need to do is siphon off the necrotic material, maintain great water conditions through regular water changes, and work the protein skimmer hard. Unfortunately, it is for this very reason that prefer curing rock in a separate container. Although not a problem to do in the display, I've found over the years that you get greater control by curing in a dedicated container> After the cycle is completed, should I remove the LR and scrub all the dead life off and then place it back in the tank? <I'd remove the dead life forms continuously during the curing process, as indicated above> My second question is in regards to water changes.  I don't have  RO/DI unit yet, looking into one based on suggestions I have read on your website. What about store bought filtered water, the ones where you take your bottles and pay to have them filled (the machine says it uses, RO, carbon etc to provide clean water, of course I don't know how often the filters are changed). The cost is only .25/gallon. <These water sources can be fine, but as you pointed out, you need to make sure that the unit is maintained properly. You could call the owner/vendor and find out how and when the units are maintained> What about bottled water, such as Alhambra? <With bottled water designed fo human consumption, there could be additives which may be slightly detrimental to aquarium life forms. I'd prefer it right from the machine. Of course, you could always contact the manufacturer to find out how their water is treated. It could be costly to use his water in the long-term, however.> Ok, actually I have a third question.  I also have a UV sterilizer which was purchased to help combat parasites since I wont be able to use copper in this tank.  I have read that you don't really support the use of sterilizers, why is this, will I be running into more problems using the sterilizer. <I have nothing against them, myself. They are quite useful. I just like keeping things simple, which is why I prefer not to use them. Nothing wrong with 'em, though> I plan to keep a couple of tangs that love algae, will the sterilizer prevent the good algae from growing? <I've seen plenty of tanks that use UV with good algae growth. Algae are caused by light and availability of nutrients. UV are mainly effective at attacking pathogens and parasites that are in the water column> Thanks a bunch, sorry I was not able to post on the forum, something about internet filters at work:) <No problem. That's what we're hear for. And we don't want you getting into trouble at work, or you won't have a job to pay for all of the cool gadgets you want for your hobby!> You guys are awesome, I am glad I found your website before I have progressed to far with my setup, as I have learned a lot from reading the FAQs.  Only been cycling for about 10 days now. Devin <Keep it up, Devin. We're always available to answer your questions. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Water & Live Rock Questions - Still abound >Thanks Marina, >>Most welcome, Devin. >My understanding was that I could cure live rock in a new tank as that would help with the initial cycling process, is this not the case. >>Well, this is partly why I sent you to search our site.  You see, cycling and curing are two *different* processes.  The rock must cure, that is to say, you must get it through the consequent die-off of all creatures in situ upon shipping.  That is all the icky stuff you're seeing.  In order to prevent *further* die-off, I recommend water changes, as I'm a very frugal (read: CHEAP) woman, and want every bit of what I paid for. >I thought curing live rock in the tank would help the cycling process? >>The live rock already has nitrifying bacteria.  The "cycling process" is the culturing of nitrifying bacteria.  So, in the presence of CURED live rock, what you are in fact doing is growing LARGER cultures of nitrifying (and deep within the rock, denitrifying) bacteria.  High ammonia will kill off a good deal of these colonies, another reason to keep a lid on it. >Based on your comments, I will progress with a water change in the next couple of days.   >>At least, depending on your test results.  If your ammonia is high, I suggest aggressive water changes and skimming, along with scrubbing that dead crud off you'd mentioned. >I also plan on adding some more rock this weekend, I just wanted to add it slowly.  Should I scrub the rock in the tank, or take it out and scrub the white spots off?  You mentioned to try to avoid killing the bacteria on the rock, how do I avoid killing it, I assume by doing frequent water changes? >>Um, cure all at once, I really prefer doing this in large trash cans (actually hate using tanks for this - I have scratched more glass and created more messes than I can count by curing in the tank).  Scrub off the white and black and STINKY areas.  Really use your nose to determine these areas.  Don't rinse in fresh water, use salt water, though.  And then, (this will become your new mantra, my friend), when in doubt, DO A WATER CHANGE!  Rare are the occasions when I will tell you not to do a water change, or when performing one *won't* help. >What about my sand bed, do I need to vacuum it in small portions as well, I'm afraid I will just suck up all the sand. >>Ah yes.  In order to safely vacuum a sand bed you will need an extra long vacuum tube, as well as a means by which to restrict the flow coming out of it.  These are a real pain in the patootie to maneuver, but will go a long way towards keeping more sand IN the tank than sucking it out.  I'm talking about 3' long or so. >Thanks again for your input.  Devin >>Again, glad to be of help, and please do search the site!  You'll really be amazed I think.  Marina

Yucky Algae On Cycling Live Rock! Hey guys, thanks again for the help. Hope you all are doing well.  <Quite well, thank you!> I am curing about 20 lbs of live rock in my 20 gal tank. I've had it now for about a week. On Sunday, I noticed that one of the rocks looked like it started growing a brown-like moss.  Very hard to explain- not wavy like moss, just looks like really funky algae. Also, on the bottom of the tank there is a build up of sediment, almost the same color as the rocks. There is very little ammonia, hardly any. Is this normal? <It is very possible that an aquarium can cycle with a minimal spike of ammonia and nitrite. On the other hand, you've only started curing the rock a week ago...The ammonia may increase over the next several days-or it may return to undetectable levels, having never exceeded more than a few ppm!> If this were die-off, wouldn't the rocks be turning white? Thank you! Daniel <Well, it sounds like the stuff that you are describing on the rocks may not be "die off". It very well may be algae, as you suspect. Fantastic blooms of nuisance algae are a totally routine and expected part of new tank start ups, and occur commonly when curing live rock, too. Regular water changes and aggressive protein skimming during curing are very good ways to help combat the algae, so it doesn't overgrow more desirable sessile animals on the rocks. And, yes- usually, necrotic or dying life forms will turn white...Be patient, keep up on the skimming, and the rock will cure in due time! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Live Rock Advice - I Need Some Help  Thanks for the advice!  I do have one follow-up question regarding the LR question below. I'm in the process of curing 90lbs "pre-cured" Fiji LR from FFExpress (really liveaquaria.com). I've seen many postings on WWM on water changes during curing.<yes> The recommendation has been to change it out at high ammonia levels ... over 1ppm is what was stated.<agreed> I can't get close to 1ppm!!!  The readings I was getting after the first day was off the chart - over 5ppm. <wow there must have been a bunch of die off from the live rock > I'm changing the water every day, after 5 days I'm now down to 3ppm. I can't make the water any faster.<lol> I'm running a protein skimmer, 80 deg temp, power head and airstone in one of my 40 gallon aquarium trash cans w/  normal daylight & actinic lighting. I sprayed each rock in saltwater via the powerhead to remove any excess mud/debris and knocked off any dying sponge, worms, etc. that were clearly going south. I did this every day at the changes, submerged in the "about to be changed" water. My question is that with all that I'm doing, the fact that there was some "pre-curing" done, is it normal for my reading to be so far off the chart?<yes if you get good quality live rock with lots of life!> Am I going to lose a lot of the life due to these high ammonia spikes?<possibly...but some will eventually grow back> Any other suggestions to reduce the ammonia levels?<you are on the right track, IanB>  Thanks, John

The Gravity of it all - Live Rock  >When curing live rock how crucial is the specific gravity?  >>Somewhat to rather crucial.  >Being that we are doing large amounts of curing here (and a lot of water changing) at the store and trying to keep costs minimal, can you skimp?  >>A bit, but know that with many organisms that come along with live rock, you'll be losing the majority if you skimp too much. Personally, I wouldn't take it lower than 1.020, especially if you're talking about premium rock, and I think even that's rather low when dealing with inverts in situ. If it's just encrusted with coralline, not much sponge/algal/coral/Corallimorph growth, then you might be able to get away with a little under 1.020, say, 1.018 (I think that might be pushing it, though).  >Also, what are the ramifications of lower salinity in the fish display  tanks.  >>For fishes only? Not much, really, most fish will adapt to slightly lower s.g. just fine. You can expect the effects to be a slightly higher oxygen saturation, a bit more "bounce" when bringing in large quantities of new arrivals (ammonia may/can come up higher than expected, in part because the water can hold a slightly higher saturation). Other than that, nothing notable. It is NOT, however, a means of parasite control, as for efficacy in that arena you'd have to take it down to between 1.007-1.010, really quite too low for fish that are going to be taken to customers' homes and plopped into 1.023-1.027s.g. water. OUCH! Oh, Mommy.. the fish popped!  >We have generally been sticking to very hardy fish (at least you say they are hardy =), but keep many hermit crabs, snails, some pieces of live rock, etc. in them.  >>Some hermits can take this, but for the most part inverts don't tolerate great differences in s.g. Acclimate SLOWLY if you must!  >Is it worth using our more expensive Tropic Marin salt vs. our less expensive Oceanic?  >>Oceanic? My tried and true is good old Instant Ocean. If Oceanic really compares to I.O. then I don't see the need to go with the Tropic Marin (has never really been a favorite of mine anyway).  >Hopefully you have some good thoughts.  >>Well, that depends on your perspective, you see. I have "good" thoughts, and then I have "bad" thoughts.. very bad thoughts.. I'm sorry, where were we?  >-Matt  >>Hope this has answered your questions, Matt. Marina Live Rock Biz Question - Wants it Straight from "The Bob" Thanks for the input. I am curious what Mr. Fenner has to say about the salt =) I know by his strong recommendations I carry the salt, perhaps he has a different opinion that I would have to weigh with yours.  <I too am a big fan of IO for good, all-around purposes... Tropic Marin and Meersaltz are premium brands of a few percent better formulation, but more expensive. I have heard too many "inconsistency" of formulation and anomalous death anecdotes to be comfortable with the Oceanic product. For curing LR I would go with full-strength NSW conditions... but I have seen "crude water softening salt" used in large pre-made quantities for this purpose initially with considerable savings realized. Bob Fenner>  Thanks again, Matt

Curing live rock and corals 4/13/04  I have a few tooth corals? (a spiked patch) and a little fragment of what looks like a little purple piece of cauliflower.  <It is impossible to ID these from your description. A good picture or two really is worth a thousand words!>  I received the live rock straight from Tonga and it is completely uncured. I have a 75 gallon with sump underneath. I have excellent water movement (1200 gph) and have been doing 20% water changes every other day. My ammonia has been above 8ppm the entire week (I received the rock on 4/1/04).  <All sounds good. If your ammonia has not changed, I would be at least a little bit suspicious of the test kit. I would suggest verifying the result with another kit.>  I have been running 2X175MH (12,000K) for 4-6 hours per day. My question is will any of these corals make it through the curing process? If not, is there something I could do to save them. They have been in the tank for one week already. Are they already dead? Any information would be appreciated. By the way my Calc is 400mg/l. Thank you, Aaron  <The corals may or may not make it through the curing process. If you are determined to save them, you could move them to a large well established tank until your cycle completes. Please do monitor alkalinity along with Calcium, as alkalinity is IMO, the more important of the two. Best Regards. Adam>

Live Rock Curing Hi Crew, <Hello there! Scott F. with you today!> Just received my first shipment of 50lbs of uncured Marshall rock.  It's being cured in a 70g Rubbermaid stock tank.  I have another shipment of 88lbs of uncured Kaelini rock coming in another week.  Is there any problem in just adding this rock to the Marshall rock?  Or should I put them in separate curing vessels? <Really good question! I suppose there are two schools of thought here- the first is that the Marshall Islands rock has already begun to cure, and that the addition of new, fresh uncured live rock will "prolong" the process, or negatively affect the surviving life forms on the Marshall Islands rock. The other thought is that since the first batch is not completely  cured-adding more rock will simply be "included" in the curing time for the original batch, no harm done. If it were me, in the interest of practicality, I'd just add the new rock to the old batch and wait it out a while longer.> Together, it will be 138 lbs in the 70g tank. Currently, my ammonia is less than .25 and its been about 2 days.  I haven't taken any nitrite or nitrate reading as yet.  Temp is 77 degrees and PH is 8.0.  Is this ammonia reading surprising or not unusual given the size of the tank relative to amount of Marshall rock?  Given the low ammonia reading I haven't done any water changes.  In the curing tank I'm using a Tunze stream and a Euroreef CS-1 skimmer to get the flow and organic export. So far I've not gotten much skimmer product; some gunk is upper part of the tube above the union but nothing has flowed into the cup as yet.   Is this unusual?  Is there any adjustments I should try to the skimmer to try to get more product?  Thanks. <Well, depending on how well the rock has been handled during the chain of custody from collector to retailer, the die off on the rock may be relatively limited. However, I would not consider live rock to be fully cured until ammonia and nitrite are undetectable for at least a week or so. The lack of skimmer production is a bit unusual, as the Euroreef skimmers excel at removal of organics. Other than the usual steps of adjusting the tube on Euroreef skimmers, and assuring that the skimmer has a level water flow, I'd just keep monitoring the rock and performing some water quality tests, small water changes, and utilize chemical filtration media (such as activated carbon) to improve water quality for the resident life forms. Be patient, and good luck! Regards, Scott F> Curing Live Rock  I'm sorry this is such a long story but I need to know what to do. About nine months ago I broke down a 55 hex. (after having it up for 5 years with dead coral). I set it back up with a 350gph canister filter, protein skimmer, and a 250gph power head, 2x65w PC light, and 40lbs. live sand (only about 1-1.5" deep). Then I bought 40lbs. of Fiji live rock. I put it in a 30 gallon container with a small filter, a powerhead and a small skimmer. I scrubbed it down with a new toothbrush twice a week for four weeks and did a 100% water change after each cleaning. After four week about half the rock still smelled, so I continued with the curing for another three weeks. Then the rock seemed to be cured (because it didn't smell and the nitrite and ammonia levels were 0ppm) I placed it into the main tank and it looked great, but soon the rock started getting a white surface that I would have to scrub off.  <I wonder if this was some kind of bacterial film or product of the decomposition of organic matter in/on the rock?>  After having the tank up for a couple months I stated adding some small fish and the tanks levels seemed to be fine. I did the normal 10-15% water change biweekly and cleaned out the filter every four-five weeks. But it seemed that every two day the rock would have a white surface but under it was bright purple and green. The pH dropped, I couldn't raise it with buffer, so I did a 50% water change. I went back to 8.3 but within 12 hours it was back down to 7.2. All my fish died and my water looked very milky. All the other levels were fine. When I took the live rock out it was black and smelly on the bottom where it had been in the sand. That sand also was black in those spots. This had to be the reason of the pH drop but what caused the rock to rot? It is a tall tank and water movement is only at the top (except the intake), could this have done this. I plan to set up a 125 tank with live rock and I don't want to make the same mistake twice. Sorry about the length of the question and I thank you very much, Andy  <Well, Andy- it really sounds to me like the rock did not finish curing, despite the water parameter readings that you were getting, and despite the length of time that rock was curing. The anaerobic spots in your sand, and the generally localized circulation was probably a contributor to the decomposition that was occurring on the rock. Ideally, you'd want to cure the rock in a dedicated container, with good water movement, regular water changes and protein skimming. I'd still consider this rock as "un-cured", and move it to a separate container to complete the process as mentioned. You can read a lot about curing live rock on the WWM site...Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Questions, ad infinitum - Curing + Cycling  >I have a question regarding live rock. I have tried reading all the material posted on your site but do not have a straight/direct answer. I want to start a FOWLR tank (~100gallons). I want to cure and cycle the tank with LR and add fish 5 months or so later. To my questions:  >>Ok.  >1)What do I feed/supplement the LR when there are no fish for the first 5 months? I just want some algae and filtration critters/bacteria/inverts and such in the live rock (dead rock is just ornamental. I want the filtration advantages of LR). Are water changes enough? If not what products are out there?  >>Raw shrimp, and/or a bit of fish food. You'll need to feed what you have in there, as well as keep your nitrifying bacteria going once established.  >2) When fish are added, will the presence of the fish feed the LR and therefore can stop adding food specifically for the live rock? That is, will the presence of fish sustain the live rock (provided water chemistry, fish are healthy.. etc. are all good)?  >>Yes.  >3) When do I need Kalkwasser? Do I need it for FOWLR (only algae/inverts/bacteria…etc.)? Would inverts present use up that much calcium?  >>Calcium is needed for those animals that require it for their life processes, such as to build exoskeletons, build coral skeletons, and so on. So, if your calcium levels are insufficient (below 350ppm), and you're not getting coralline growth, or you have tridacnids, et al, then you'd want to use a buffer or use the Kalkwasser. I am not very experienced with fine tuning either, so further questions would need to be directed towards others with more experience tweaking chemistry.  >Thanks a bunch! Rob  >>You're welcome! Wow, that was quick and easy.. very well organized set of questions, Rob. Marina

New Reef Tank Setup Question? Curing Live Rock 3/26/04 Hello and thanks for all the great advice, I have seen a lot of live rock on-line and wanted your opinion on what you think is the best. <hmmm... there are advantages and disadvantages to buying live rock online. If you have never cured live rock before (even so-called "cured" live rock bought online needs re-cured) or bought liverock online before... I'm likely to advise against it. It can be difficult, messy and end up costing you money in the long run (loss of bio-diversity, sea salt for massive water changes, etc). To emphasize the point further, if you do not have an empty aquarium (bare-glass bottom) or like vessel to do the job with heavy skimmer, then you really should resist air shipped rock. Placing such matter directly in the display with sand, etc can/will foul it and cause future problems/challenges> My local dealer recommends Vanuatu (not sure how good this is) but I see it limited on-line and most people tend to purchase Fiji that I talk to. <the quality of live rock in practical terms is dictated really more so by batch and how it was/is handled on import. Any of the South Pacific live rock is quite fine> Also is it better to stick to one type of rock or mix and match? Do you think that cured or uncured is a better start for a new tank? <if you are not setting up a dedicated biotope tank, then its nice to get the extra biodiversity of a mix> And what process do you recommend for curing live rock? <this topic is extremely important to understand clearly and cannot be answered in the brevity of an e-mail. Much has been writ on it in our WWM archives... do browse it freely. And please also consider our new book Reef Invertebrates (Calfo and Fenner) which has very comprehensive coverage of this subject and so much more> Many methods are shown on the web. Do you recommend the Conscientious Marine Aquarist for a good first book? Thank you, Jason <friendship aside, I can say that our good friend Bob's book, Conscientious Marine Aquarist is one of the very best references for marine aquarists. But don't just take my word for it... do see the overwhelmingly positive reviews of it on Amazon.com and the various hobby message boards. Anthony>

Ammonia Spikes from Live Rock We recently bought 75 pounds of Tonga rock. <Congrats! Ryan with you today> We had them in a 32 gallon Rubbermaid bucket for 4 days and then decided to add them to  our 90 gallon tank which housed 75 pounds of live sand and 2 blue damsels.  It has been three days and I have some questions. First, we have a protein skimmer, venturi-type, and want to know what the consistency of the build up in the cup is supposed to be like. watery or thick slime). <Coffee/Tea consistency and color is ideal> If is too watery is it because we are pushing too much bubbles to the top? <yes, by raising the collection cup the skimmate becomes increasingly more viscous.> Now for the curing of the rock.  Our water continues to have a high ammonia level (3.7) and high nitrite level (1.6). <I see> How do we bring these levels down? <time, water changes> Should we use a turkey baster on the rocks and if so how often do we do this? <Daily, the more debris you can stir up, the more your skimmer can remove> How often should we clean the pre filters during curing. <I rinse all pre-filters with my weekly water change, and have done so since set-up> Should we be washing the carbon filter? <No> If there is anything else you can add to help us start up our salt water tank, your help would be greatly appreciated. <Yes, I think you would benefit from this article: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/filtration/biological/biofiltr.htm Have fun with your new setup! Ryan> Thanks, Cindy

Nitrite Spike! Hi Crew, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today> Thanks for the advice last mail on "pods"! After a good solid 0/0 Ammonia/Nitrite, I have added a Malu anemone to my 240 litre tank. It is well (possibly over?) filtered, and although it is maybe a bit new (3 months), it has finished cycling, and is fine with the fire shrimp, hermits, Turbos, and the 2 clowns. Anyway, the LFS was holding the anemone for me in a tank on its own, with two pieces of small LR, while my system settled. They are good folks, and I asked them to find me one. They have a monster filtration system, (Star Wars + Frankenstein's Factory  :-)   ) and the folks there are real enthusiasts, so I don't want to believe there was anything bad going on. However, after adding the Malu (Saturday), I've got a little Nitrite showing (0.1 -0.2), which I am sure is not good for the anemone? <Not good for any of your tank's inhabitants, really!> I added the 2 pieces of LR at the same time, could this be causing a mini cycle ( the LR was taken out and bagged for only about 20 minutes before adding, due to the drive home). My question is, should I remove the anemone to clean (zero Nitrite) conditions until things settle, or will it be less stressful to leave it in-situ, and do some big water changes, say 20% every day...?? Thanks for all the help...... Bob (UK) <Well, Bob- it's a reasonable assumption that the rock may have been "uncured", or not entirely cured, and could be contributing to a nitrite spike in the system. My instinct is to remove the anemone to better conditions, until the nitrite reading returns to undetectable levels. On the other hand, the stress of moving this animal around repeatedly may be worse...I'd take the risk and embrace a stepped-up water change schedule and careful monitoring of water conditions until things improve. Make sure that your protein skimmer is working hard, and that you are using a good grade of activated carbon or other chemical filtration media. Good luck! Regards, Scott F> Curing Live Rock - 3/4/04 Hello, and thank you guys for a wonderful site with accurate information. <Not always accurate but as unbiased as we can be> I have run into a fork in the road, and was wondering what you guys suggested. I have a empty 55 gal. tank that I have set up for saltwater. I have a Fluval 304, as well as RemoraC skimmer and mag 3 pump. I have 2 standard eclipse hoods with both marine and power Glo lights. Before mixing my  saltwater I made the late decision to order 65 lbs. of LR, which is coming in two days. <Probably there by now, eh?> Here is my problem; I ordered the rock from a LFS, and after reading your replies I will have to cure the rock myself. <No problem. The majority of us have been/are have done the same> I have a couple of options I can choose from. One thought was to place the rock in my new tank and let it cycle with everything else, given the salinity. <Given the salinity?? Just set the tank up and add the rock to the substrate, add the water at the appropriate salinity (35ppt) and let it cycle.> My problem here is that the tank is in my room, and the smell I read about is scaring me. <Can be like rotten eggs at worst, moldy at best. Some (rare) don't really ever smell. Could always use carbon...> My wife has been gracious in letting me enjoy my new hobby, but I fear the smell could lead to a revolt! <Likely. You could cure it somewhere else> Is the smell that bad? <I wouldn't want it in my sleeping quarters> My next option was to use a empty tank (also a 55 gal.) in the garage to cure my rock. <Or a Tupperware vat, a plastic garbage can outside, or many other options> I would still use my skimmer, and have numerous extra filters I could use. <Sounds good to me> If I went with the garage option, is there anything I can do with my room tank to prepare for the rock arrival. <Add sand and keep lights off. Think about the rock design and flow dynamics> I have twenty pounds of fine crushed coral that I plan to cover with 20-40 lbs. of live sand. <I wouldn't mix use all fine oolitic if the substrate is not purchased> Is that smart? <I don't like that idea much. Crushed coral gets clogged up and looks unsightly over time with messy fish and inverts> Does live sand need to be cured as well? <Not usually. Just add (all  dry sand will inoculate from live rock and become "live" over time> My last option was to cancel my order and just buy the live rock from the LFS at a slightly higher price that seems to be already cured. <Nah. Be adventurous!!> Sorry for the long problem, but I really need your advice. <No worries. Have fun. I am envious of your new endeavor> Thank you for all your help. <Thanks for being part of it all ~Paul>

Cycling vs. Curing >Hi crew!!  How do you do?   >>Hello querier, I do well, thank you. >I am curious about something.  Please allow me to explain/ask.  I am about to set up a 75 gallon RR glass tank for frag grow out.  I traded 9 coral frags for it.  I have been in salt up to my elbows for about 18 years and have inquired of you more than a few times and you have been most helpful.  The problem is I haven't cycled anything for about 18 years except my 20 gallon QT but that was done with a Fluval 404 and water from my main tank so that was a no brainer.  I would like to cycle the 75 and am wondering if putting 85 lbs. of Kaelini live rock in would do the trick.   >>Whether cured or not, the live rock will most certainly harbor nitrifying bacteria.  What I believe you want to do, again, assuming the rock is already gone through the cure process, is culture larger numbers of nitrifiers, in which case I suggest cycling with a bit of raw shrimp.  Simply put it in a bit of pantyhose, drop it in their, let it rot, monitor your parameters, and you'll know when the cycle's finished when ammonia and nitrite hit zero. >I don't want to use water from my main tank as I have hair algae in there right now and don't want to risk the hair in the 75 right off the bat.   >>Indeed, plus, the water wouldn't harbor much in the way of those benthic nitrifiers.   >I will be using a Euro Reef ES5-2 that will be plumbed outside the tank as I have no sump.  I will also be using a calcium reactor to maintain alk/calcium.  Lighting will be 2-4 110 watt VHOs as I already have ballasts and end caps for them.  Can I use the liverock or will all the "stuff" die that's already on it?   >>Again, there's a difference between curing and cycling.  If the rock is UNcured, perform the curing process with that outrageous skimmer you have (don't think you could have done better than the Euro-Reef), and LOTS of large water changes to keep ammonia and nitrite levels DOWN.  This will practically guarantee that you'll preserve the most life possible. >Should I mix the salt/water and bring the pH, alk, calcium, etc.. levels up to par and let sit for 4-6 weeks and then add the live rock?   >>Well aged salt water is always a good thing, I don't think you need to let the water itself sit that long.  A few days would be quite suitable I think.   >I don't really know what will bring the ammonia, nitrite, nitrate spikes about but would like some guidance.  Do I use damsels or green Chromis to cycle the tank before the live rock?   >>No no, folks don't cycle with fish anymore.  Use the shrimp. >Would prefer to use the green Chromis of the two.  I would like to get the live rock ordered and just use that to cycle the tank if possible.   >>Again, cycling and curing are two very different things.  Cycling is culturing two species of "nitrifying" bacteria, one oxidizes ammonia into nitrite, the other oxidizes nitrite into nitrate.  Curing is simply the process of getting as much life in situ with the live rock THROUGH the die-off of that which does not survive shipping.  Want more life?  Prevent the high ammonia and nitrite with outrageous skimming and humongous water changes.   Cure the rock as I told you (keep those two levels DOWN, or you will experience a great deal of die-off), THEN cycle as outlined.  You'll see, in this order: Peak in ammonia; peak in nitrite; drop in ammonia with rise in nitrate and/or rise in nitrite; ammonia drops to zero; nitrite begins to drop as nitrate rises; then zero ammonia and nitrite; concurrent peak in nitrate. >If not possible I will follow your recommendations as to how to proceed.  Thanks a million, Jeff >>Quite welcome, Jeff.  Do as outlined above, search our site as well as general Google for cycling (if my explanation didn't cover all questions).  In the meantime, get that water mixed and l/r ordered.  Cure the l/r, THEN worry about cycling for the grow out.  Though, honestly, I don't think you'll actually *need* to worry about fully cycling for a frag grow out, assuming all frags are healthy there should be little in terms of bioload demands placed on the system that the live rock, once fully cured, can't handle.  Marina Adding live rock - 2/26/04 Hi,      How are you guys? <Doing pretty good> Thanks for the help with the phosphate problem, I'm finally getting it under control. <Good to hear> Just a quick question about adding live rock. <Go for it> So far I have only 11 pounds(5kg) of live rock in a 60g tank, <Wow, you could definitely use more> my local dealer suggested adding a few kilos at a time, over time until I have my desired amount (I thought maybe about 90pounds). <That is a good amount> I am now experiencing a nitrite spike, from 0.25 to 1.0 (I don't suppose you would have an idea how long this will last)<As long as it take to cycle. Basically....you are cycling again> and after checking many FAQ's and articles on your site about cycling and live rock and it sounds like adding live rock bit by bit would be a bad idea. <Good work on the research. Too bad it is a little after the fact but good of you nonetheless> Should I try and add the majority of my planned LR now in my cycling period or would it be all right to add it a few kilos at a time. <Add as much as you can afford to now and go through the cycle. From now on, when adding live rock, be sure to cure it yourself before placing in your tank. Regardless of what the store or site states about the curing stage of their live rock. Cure it yourself.> Thanks a lot for all your help and the wealth of info on your site - Ryan <Thanks for being part of it all ~Paul>

Curing And Placing Live Rock... Thanks for your great site!  (My apologies in advance for the length of my email) <No apologies needed! That's why we're here! Scott F. with you today!> I have just purchased 45lbs of "Caribbean live rock" for my fish only tank from Liveaquaria.com.  I have not received the live rock yet, but I have a few questions (want to make sure I do everything right).  I plan on curing the rock in a Rubbermaid tub with a powerhead and water heated to about 80 degrees.  I do not have an extra protein skimmer and do not want to remove the one from my tank.  Will I be okay without the protein skimmer, and should I add a different filter? (I have an extra HOT magnum and an emperor BioWheel) <Not a bad idea. You certainly can get away without a skimmer, but a more aggressive water change schedule is advised> The Liveaquaria.com curing guide advises twice weekly 100% water changes - is this too much?  The guide also advises to get rid of "critters" by placing the rock in 1.035 - 1.040 water for one minute, letting the critters leave the rock, picking the ones you want and discarding the rest.  My husband thinks this may cause too much harm to the rock.  What do you think? <Yep...I don't like that idea. It certainly can work, but I think that it might better to elevate the rock on eggcrate or some other platform to allow the "bad guys" an exit...> Last question.  My fish like to dig.  I have read previous posts advising placing egg crate just under the surface of the substrate to prevent the fish from digging and toppling the rocks. Won't this make the bottom of the tank (2 inches of crushed shells) too hard to clean?  I can't add a clean up crew (have triggers) so I need to vacuum the substrate on a regular basis.  Would you suggest going with or without the egg crate?  Thank you so much for your help! Brandy <Well, the safest bet is to lay down the rock first, then to place the substrate down. In your case, I'd just be very careful in setting the rock down in the most stable configuration possible. Personally, I think that the eggcrate idea is more of a hassle, for the benefit that it can provide. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F> Help with live rock white stuff 2/8/04 Hi crew, once again I need your expert help.  Searched the FAQs and couldn't find an answer.  My live rock is being covered with what looks like a fine white fuzzy substance.  Starting to choke out my coralline, in some places it is filling in the small holes in rock.  Any ideas what it might be and where to research?? Thanks as always for your great service. Mike <if the rock is new (less than 3 weeks old) then it is curing and the white stuff is decay - in need of stronger water flow and more aggressive skimming and water changes. If the live rock is established and mature, the growth is likely sponge. Fairly harmless but indicative of high nutrients (to grow them). Do be careful either way. Anthony>

Live Rock Curing Question (1/23/04)    I've recently purchased 40 lbs of cured Fiji live rock from FFExpress, and have much of it partially buried within my 5" DSB. <Needs to be. Even better for stability to rest the foundation LR on the glass and then add the sand. Otherwise, there is a risk of collapse, especially if you have any burrowing organisms.> On top of this there is 45 lbs of cured Marshall. There are currently no inhabitants as this is a new tank.    The question I have is, should the rock not be covered as the sand will smother the organisms that are dying off? <It is always better to cure rock in open water.> Will this cause the cycling process to go much longer or cause ammonia spikes further down the road? <Will likely slow the process, but I doubt there will be later, unanticipated spikes.> I also have one other question regarding calcium reactors. It seems that if I plan on having a reef tank somewhere down the road, this piece of equipment can greatly help maintain and increase my alkalinity and calcium levels. My tank is only a 72g, however, and many of the reactors I see are for tanks up go 300 gallons or more. Are these particular reactors too strong for my tank, or can the pressure be decreased to the amount where the levels would be reasonable for the 72? <You can use them on a smaller tank. Jut follow the directions. Don't spend the big bucks for a reactor until you have a tank full of rapid consumers of calcium. Kalkwasser or two-part supplements like B-Ionic will be fine until then. Remember to test for anything that you supplement so you give the right amount. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Nitrate in month old tank I set up a tank for a friend (saltwater- 75 gallon with 75 lbs of uncured live rock). natural seawater was used. the person left the tank off (no pumps running) for almost a month. now the nitrate is plus 80. Question how can the ammonia be processed into nitrate so quickly and then remain at such a high level.  is it because of stagnant water, not enough denitrifying bacteria can be established? Not enough oxygen? <All the above. Yes, yes, yes, and finally yes. Time to do some large, successive water changes, get the water moving, oxygenated, fire up the skimmer... Bob Fenner> - Revenge of the SeaClone - I'm curing some beautiful Caribbean LR from FFE in a 31 gal Rubbermaid tank. Following your advice I'm having aggressive water-flow (2 x Rio 1400 powerheads), one small (Fluval 1+) carbon activated filter and a SeaClone/Marineland 100 protein skimmer (venturi, co-current) that is not new (used by somebody else before, and hence not in the break-in period). Unfortunately ever since the LR came (3 days ago) I was unable to obtain the nice "gunk", the think solid/semi-solid dark green/light green stuff that's supposed to land in the collection cup. Instead I'm getting about 1 cup-full of watery brownish water in the cup. The skimmer seems to work well -> lots of small bubbles in the skimmer, lots of foam coming into the cup (so much that it escapes through the hole on top of the cup), but once in the cup it does not transform into the nice green gunk but into dirty brown water. I looked in the protein skimmer manual and they said to make sure that the venturi valve is at 2-3 inches below water surface. Checks. Other than that, I tried to adjust the valve at the air intake. The more I open it, the more air gets in and the less water flows through the skimmer (which I think is what I want), so for now it is full open. The skimmer itself does not have any adjustment for the height of the collection cup (I believe that others do). I am not sure if the watery output is due to a poor skimmer design (although it seems by the color of the deposits in the cup that the previous owner was getting green stuff out), or an incorrect adjustment (again, only the amount of air entering the venturi is adjustable), or simply because it's not skimming an established aquarium but rather a fresh batch of LR that is having a terrible water quality (4-6ppm ammonia!). <Your first guess was the correct one... the performance of this skimmer, or lack of it is due to a woefully inadequate design... some have tried to make modifications to it to enhance performance, but the gains are modest at best. It should be noted though that any skimmate is better than none - your rock will cure, no worries.> Thank you again for your time. You guys are doing a great job!  Mihai <Cheers, J -- >

- Live Rock Curing - Hi Crew... Thanks to J. for the reply to 'substrate headache', I have decided to use a thin, easily managed Aragonite bed in the main tank and build a 24"x12"x12"  Refugium to supplement filtration. (Also REALLY want a Mandarin when the tank has matured enough). As I stated in my last pester...sorry...Email, I have a 400 litre tank, Aquamedic T1000 skimmer, 2 1000 Litre per hour powerheads and 1 500 Litre per hour powerhead. To this I have added 100 lbs of Fiji LR, it has been running skimmer and all for 6 days..... Thursday the tank started to look milky, by night time very milky. Friday (Today), by lunchtime the living room smelled pretty bad. When I returned home from work @10.00pm the same day the smell had gone and the water was clear. The rock has a fair bit of life on it - coralline, green stuff that looks like coralline (but green), Lots of small tube things I can't identify some green, some brown, some white, they look like tiny anemones but with only one row of very fine tentacles and a bright center (Maybe Zoanthids?) trillions of 'pods, two Aiptasia (I think), various worms, something that looks like a tiny spider, One feather duster and a mystery mollusk. So far... I include this information because all these are doing well and I would have thought, if water quality was bad, they would be killed off.  The skimmer is producing Half an inch of really foul smelling crap and a load of grunge in the neck a day (I clean it every night. At least until tank settles)  I am running a pound of activated carbon in an internal filter, this has been changed once. <I'd go ahead and change this... will help keep odors down to a dull roar and really, the active part of carbon is made inactive within the first 24 hours.> Temp is 25*C / Salinity 1.023 / ammonia 1.5 mg/l / nitrite 5ppm Have not tested nitrate yet.  The tank is lit with 36w NO tubes, 1 Actinic and 1 daylight for 12 hours 8am to 8pm. I have two more daylights (triton) that I will gradually phase in. Is the cloudy water Diatoms?. <No... more likely proteins from die-off on the live rock. Not really uncommon.> Do they smell?. <Diatoms don't, but curing live rock does.> I thought the Algae fight started once the tank had cycled, which mine obviously hasn't. <Give it time... it will show up.> By the way, I have some change water ready, but understood this interferes with the cycling process. Is this true? <It will, true, but your tank may already be on its way to completing the nitrogen cycle. Best to do that nitrate test and see where you stand.> Sorry for the barrage of information, but with so much at stake (LR is wallet bustingly expensive here) I would like to know I am on track and not screwing things up. <Still on the right track as I see it.> Also I am still at the stage where I go 'ooohhh' looking at the all the bubbles in the skimmer. Please tell me I'm normal. <You are normal.> Thanks for helping, <Really, my pleasure.>  Duncan. <Cheers, J -- >

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