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More FAQs about Curing Live Rock 8

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 5, Curing LR 6, Curing LR 7, 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,

Best to have no purposeful livestock present during LR cycling.

Curing live rock/FJ       2/24/15
I have been re curing the Fiji live rock I bought on line at saltwaterfish.com for a week.
<Mmm; of the six folks that do marine collecting for export in Fiji, five of them are heavy in LR... and really only one (Walt Smith) does a good job of prep.ing ahead of shipping. I've seen some that just pick up the rock at low tides and stick it in boxes to ship.... Not good>
I did 2 water changed but the ammonia and nitrates never went up! Does this mean it's safe for me to place them in my established fish tank?
<Mmm; likely so... and this IS very probably a WSI product. I'd likely wait another week, to be sure; and to culture my own patience.... a HIGHLY necessary/essential personal characteristic for successful reef-keeping.
Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re curing live rock
Thank You!
<Welcome. BobF>
Re: Howdy, howsit, a WSI mention on WWM     3/25/15

<Hey Walt!>
Many thanks for the words. I really think it’s time for a visit. I would like to catch up.
<Sure... when, where?>
The Labasa station has proved to be a very good move and the fish coming down are adding to our offerings in a very positive way every week. Politically it is not perfect but we have become very good at jumping the hurdles and they are slowly getting used to us.
<Yay and YAY!>
Our newest ReefRock2.1 is just hitting the market with some nice success but it is a little difficult with Real Reef already out there and establishing a foothold in this niche.
<As we both know... this all takes TIME! A few years usually... even if you were giving away gold bricks.... Do you have any written blurbs I might post on WWM re?>
I talked with Petco yesterday and they are very keen. We have established and registered a non profit called ADE (Aquaculture Development for the Environment) and a portion of each sale will go towards a huge reef restoration project in Fiji.
<Ah, great>
This product is linked to that. I would really like to fill you in on greater detail and have you help get the story out but some time together would be essential! Howzboutit?
<I say YES! Hopefully somewhere the water is warm and clear. Are you on the mainland? How 'bout hauling down for a week or so to... Puerto Vallarta the end of next month? Am scheduled to try out a new Iberostar resort... and Dressel Divers svc. Or....? BobF>
Miss the laughs!
<Oh yes!>
Howdy, howsit, a WSI mention on WWM    3/25/15

Hey Bob, All sounds good but I am in Fiji for a while now. Just got back a few weeks ago after a 9 week trip to LA, Seattle, Whistler, Chicago, Encinitas, LA and back to Fiji. Have to stay put for a while as the natives are restless.
<? Oh; can/will haul out if/when you have time.... could you spare a week to get out on a liveaboard?>
Regarding blurb, do a good scrub of our new website www.reefproject2.com  and tell me what you think.
<Very nice indeed!>
Also our ads appear in Coral Mag every month.
<Yes; have seen these/them>
New products are hard to break in but that’s half the fun … right? Walt
<It is. BobF>

some algae ID please 12/3/12
Hi.  3reef seems stumped and I was directed here.
Linking a pic and a video (photobucket) for reference.
This stuff followed a Cyano outbreak.  The tank is over four years old.
Param.s are solid and nasties are 0 (measurable) though they are probably tied up in this growth.
<Assuredly, yes>
Calothrix was suggested but it doesn't really fit the description, it's not as stringy.  iodine test showed no starches
Haven't been able to ID the source.  Changed all filters in all stages of RO/DI (even though was 0 TDS) to be safe.  Have added a green clown goby.
Otherwise, no additions in a very long time.
it's slimy, disintegrates when you take it out of the water, almost bulbous looking.
<Have seen this sort of mass/mess many times in wholesale LR curing operations... and under a scope; it's a mix of Dinoflagellates, some browns (Phaeophytes), Cyanophytes, and other Monera, Protistans... >
The directory of pics
Some highlighted pics and a video
Thank you!!! Any help appreciated.
ID is most important, tips for getting rid of it appreciated too.
<Dumping all the water out, rinsing off most the biomass, doing what one can to restrict nutrient availability, using competitors, algal predators... the usual assortment of techniques gone over and over on WWM. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Recycling - 10/15/2012
Hi again Guys!!
 I've searched through your fax and couldn't find a direct answer to this so I thought I would ask a quick question.  I have a 125 Gallon Reef tank that will be updated in a month with a bigger sump and a separate refugium addition.  I have almost
too much Live Rock in the system and will be moving some to the sump and refugium.  My tank is 4 years old and I have gradually increased my Live Rock as I do worry about the dreaded "old tank syndrome"
Question is this, my LFS said that I can remove some LR and keep it in a container in the dark with saltwater, good circulation, and heater and in a couple of weeks the LR kind of "reset's itself" for nitrate removal.  Is this accurate?
<Can work, yes>
 Just curious how long I should wait to reuse it or is it now just good for base rock?
<W/o adverse conditions several weeks to a few months>
 Thanks again!!!
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Questions, curing mostly     10/1/12
Howdy, I am still in the process of starting up my 90 gallon reef ready aquarium.  I went to the LFS to get live rock.  I got 50 pounds of branch rock that had just come in on a shipment and had not been in the water in at least 3 or 4 days it looked (the shipping box had a date from 3 days prior on it).
<About as fresh as it, this gets>
It still looked a little damp on the rock and there was still some red algae and blue algae on there.  I bought it as a box because it was cheaper buying it all in box than buying it out of their tank.
Later that day I went to a different LFS and picked up about 25 pounds of Fiji live rock that had been in a curing bin for about a week they said. 
I put all of it together in a large plastic bin in the garage 3 days ago.
<Mmm, I'd put each in its own bin to cure>
  I have an aerator blowing bubbles in there.  I checked the ammonia later that evening and it was off the charts at 8.0. 
<Yes; to be expected>
I did a 100% water change and let it sit all night.  At first I was using R/O salt water
<No need>
 for this but after I realized I was going to have to make many water changes, I decided to downgrade to tap salt water with de-chlorinator in it.
<Mmm, may well lose most life in/on the rock thus>
  The next day I tested it again and did a 50% water change after getting another 8.0 reading.  I also put dead bio balls in there to get them cured and possibly assist in the rock curing.  This morning I put a nano power head in there and added my Remora Pro skimmer to it.  The skimmer is brand new and they said there was a little bit of a break in time to have it work at its best. 
The little rubber ring slid on it sometime during the day and the collector box was sitting down too low so the box completely filled up and was overflowing, but it didn't look too brown and sludge-like.
<Yes and yes... again, not unusual>
 It actually just looked like the yellow-green colored water that is in the tub.  I did another test this evening and it is still at 8.0.  Should this be going down at all yet or should it ever have been that high?
<Takes time "to go down"... a few weeks usually>
  I would like to salvage the live stuff on the rock if at all possible, rather than killing it all with ammonia and starting over.  Is there anything you guys suggest?
<I'd cure it in place... in the system...>
  I saw someone post about an ammonia sponge, but you guys said it was a good brand and good idea, but it doesn't work.
<Nope; won't>
  I couldn't find anything on your site that does work, but there are like 10 billion posts on there and even Googling for the stuff I am looking for is not working for me.  I also saw posts about changing the water when needed on people that are above 2.5 or something.  I didn't see too many people with ammonia over 8.0.  How often should I be checking/changing the water?
<Mmm, every day or two>
 Should I check it every 2 hours and then doing a water change every time if it is over 2.5 or what?  Any help in keeping this live rock alive would be great.  Thanks.
<I would have you read through the LR Curing bits on WWM... at your leisure: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/Curing%20Live%20Rock.htm
the article and Curing FAQs (linked above)... take your time. Bob Fenner>

Ammonia and Nitrite up 7/25/12
Hi Crew,
<Hello Adam>
I have a marine tank previously with ammonia and nitrite at zero which has been running for about six months. I recently added several fish at one time which is not ideal I know but circumstances made it necessary and after three days both are now at 0.25.
<No tank size, other information?>
I therefore felt perhaps the bacteria were at a maximum number with the surface area available and that by increasing the available surface area for the bacteria would therefore increase their numbers.
<Good logic.>
I went to the beach and found many porous rocks and about doubled the amount of rocks in the tank.

I placed them in fresh water first to get the crabs to come out, appreciate  there is a risk of something dying in the rocks but did not want crabs in my tank as they eat the small fish at night. This was yesterday and the readings are still 0.25 for both. According to http://www.bioconlabs.com/nitribactfacts.html the bacteria should have doubled by now.
<Problem I see is that any animal life in the rock has likely died on the way to your home and you created more waste for the nitrogen cycle to catch up with.  It's not a good move taking rock from the beach and putting it in your tank, never know what you could introduce in to the system.>
 I have also added Stability by Seachem and Alpha by AquaVitro. Do you have any experience with these products.
 My fish are all fine I have stopped feeding them, apart from a tiny bit of brine shrimp. Any idea when you think the readings will drop to zero?
<Not with any accuracy but likely a week or two for sure.  James (Salty Dog)>
 Regards, Adam.

Curing Live Rock 1/17/12
Hi Crew,
<Hello Jess>
I am in the process of curing base rock before putting it in my display tank. I have the rock currently in Rubbermaid containers with a powerhead, saltwater, and a heater. The amonia <ammonia> levels are high, I have done one water change so far this week and plan to do two 100% water changes a week. I know that once the amonia drops to zero then it is safe to put the rock in my tank, but I am wondering if the amonia level will drop on its own as the Nitrites increase (as if the water is cycling) or will the amonia <ammonia> level drop and stay low depending on the number of water changes? If this is the case, if I change the water daily, will the rock be cured faster?
<Not worth the expense doing daily water changes.  Best to read here.
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Live Rock/Live Rock Curing 7/21/11
Dear Crew
<Hello Michael>
I bought some live rock a couple a days ago (about 7 pounds) to add to my tank (80 G with about 60 pounds of live rock) I bought it at a local LFS. The rock is from a large private 300G tank that has been taken down. I put the rock in a plastic container (It has been there for 48 hours now, I did a water change today) with a small powerhead with newly mixed saltwater ( The water had been mixed 24 hours before) There is no smell from the rock, other than that of saltwater. I have been running an Ammonia test today (Salifert, new test set) The test showed zero traces of Ammonia in the water. There are some small mushrooms on one of the rocks, they seem to be alive, they smell very fresh. Well, to cut to the chase (If that is possible by now!) Will it be safe to add these rocks to system?
<As long as no ammonia is present and the rock smells fresh, and no trace of a rotten egg smell, I'd go ahead and place in your system.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Longfin Bannerfish For Beginner?/Heniochus /Systems/Compatibility, & LR "curing" 5/2/2011
James - Thank you! So the problem is age of the tank.
<Is one item along with some knowledge and a system capable of supporting these fish.>
That is very useful information. I wish those two books that said it's not a beginner's fish would have said that.
<Basically they did.>
This is especially true in my case, because on the advice of an experienced aquarist whom I trusted (maybe or maybe not for the best!), I dark-cured my live rock with no water changes. He explained that this would kill anything harmful on the rock, leaving only the necessary bacteria.
Well, he was sure right! Although my tank has excellent biological filtration, my live rock is about as dead as it gets.
<It should come back in time providing it was quality rock to begin with.
Live rock is generally shipped moist to save on shipping costs and there will be some die off of animal life due in part to the shipping process and the high level of ammonia that will be present in the curing tank.>
I also have no apparent micro-fauna, other than a few harpacticoid copepods that I keep introducing from the breeding tank in my cellar. They never seem to 'take' in my main tank. So this is a very, very 'dead' tank right now. I'll hold off on these Bannerfish until I see some life in the tank.
Maybe with my few small fish pooping in it, the rocks and substrate will develop some micro life.
<You may want to re-seed your "dead" rock with a quality piece of live pre-cured rock. Did you do any research on the process of curing live rock before you attempted this?
Information can be found here.
And here. http://www.liveaquaria.com/PIC/article.cfm?aid=47>
Thanks again! That was a big help.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Longfin Bannerfish For Beginner?/Heniochus /Systems/Compatibility 5/2/2011
>> Did you do any research on the process of curing live rock before you attempted this? <<
James - Did I ever! Before I began this hobby, I spent literally $400 on marine aquarium books and read them all. Highlighted. Took notes.. I saw a huge variety of advice: Cure in the main tank. Cure in a separate tank.
Cure with a lot of light. Cure with a little light. Cure with no light.
Change the water completely in the middle of the process. Change 20 percent every few days. Never change it, because you want the ammonia to spike really high.
Ultimately, I joined a small marine aquarium community for advice. (I had not heard of WetWebMedia at that time. Wish I had!!!!) An old pro there warned that lots of potentially dangerous critters such as brittle worms, mantis shrimp, and Aiptasia anemones can come with live rock, and you need a powerful ammonia/nitrite spike to kill them all as well as build a huge population of nitrification bacteria. This made sense to me, so that's what I did.
<The problem there is that you also kill all beneficial and/or wanted organisms and is why you have none. There are other safe means to remove unwanted animals, and Bristleworms are more beneficial than they are dangerous.
Plenty to read here and related items found in the header.
I will say that he was correct as far as it goes. The rock came out of the curing tank gray and lifeless but with fantastic biological filtration capacity. But as I read here at WetWebMedia, I see that problems with theses creatures are fairly rare, while the benefits of microfauna are enormous.
I am considering getting a batch of quality live sand and putting it in my now empty quarantine tank to cycle, and then moving it to my display tank.
Maybe that would build my microfauna.
<Your money would be better spent on a few pieces of quality "live" rock.
Organisms present on the live rock will eventually seed your present substrate and your "dead" rock. It's very unlikely there will be any interesting micro fauna found in live sand. Personally, I think live sand is a waste of money for the very few benefits gained.
James (Salty Dog)>
Re Longfin Bannerfish For Beginner?/Heniochus /Systems/Compatibility 5/2/2011
>> Your money would be better spent on a few pieces of quality "live" rock. <<
James - Okay, will do. Because I'm in no hurry, I'll buy uncured rather than cured live rock, in the hope that more life comes with it. I'll just throw it in my quarantine tank, cure it there with skimming, frequent water changes, and a little light.
<Sounds good!>
The process of seeing what comes out of it may be as interesting as the fish in my main tank!
<It can be interesting.>
Thanks again!
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Live Rock Into Established Tank Question/Live Rock/Curing 4/7/2011
<Hello Lynne>
I am awaiting a shipment of 50 lbs of Fiji live rock that I am going to add to my established 55 gallon aquarium that currently has 3 fish in it.
Once the live rock arrives, how should I add it to the tank to prevent an ammonia spike that could kill my fish?
<Live rock shipping from a distant location must be cured before placing in your display tank, even if it's sold as "cured" as there will be die off during the shipping process. Best to read here and related articles found  at the foot of this article.
The additional link below will give you Drs Foster & Smith method of curing live rock.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Cycling up new tank/Ammonia   1/31/11
Hi again WWM crew,
<Hello John.>
I'm starting up a new 28 gallon tank. Specs thus far:
150w MH lighting
M-J 1200/Accela stock power head, on Wavemaker
25 lbs. aragonite sand
45 lbs. Fiji live rock
3-part Filtration chamber - filter floss, carbon (to be replaced by Chemi-pure elite after cycle), Chaeto ball under lighting (after cycle) I wanted to preserve as much diversity on the rock as possible; I ordered it
'cured' from LA, two-day shipping. The plan was to use this rock to cycle the tank. In the face of two different schools of opinion on the issue of how best to preserve as many of the hitchhikers as possible, I elected not to scrub the rock; only to remove and large, clearly dead organisms.
<Pretty much what I do too.>
I expected a healthy ammonia spike but for the last four days the rock has been in the tank the ammonia has been steadily off the charts of my API test, over 8ppm. After a little under 24 hours the nitrite started
showing up and is now around 1.5 ppm. So we're cycling, but the nitrite is climbing very slowly. Not sure if there's a 1:1 linear relationship in converted ammonia / nitrite. I'm concerned that in trying to preserve the life on the rock by not scrubbing I'm actually causing more of a problem by nuking the rock with way, way too much ammonia.
<You are...in the territory distinguishing between normal curing and the ammonia killing off more than needed. The latter is happening at these levels.>
I've done two 10% water changes two days apart, and even after these changes I'm still enough above 8ppm that I can't detect the true value.
<You need to change much more, even 100% a day if need be for a few days.>
I'm trying to decide a course of action - time and effort not factors, just hoping to keep as much life as possible;
1. Remove/Scrub all the rock, flush the water, try again.
<Would help, but I prefer not to personally. You do lose more than needed doing this.>
2. Ride it out with 10% water changes every other day as I've been doing.
<You need more here.>
3. Ignore it and let the cycle do its thing.
<Well, what you will end up with is "cured" rock that is all too common.
So many LFS sell cured rock that show no life. They simply get live rock and throw it in a holding tank until it is bought. So much life on the rock is lost. We have all seen the bare white "live rock". It is live to
a point, but not the live rock we all wish to start out with.>
4. Increase the size and frequency of the water changes, trying to keep the ammonia within my testable levels.
<Yep, tis the route. As low as possible. A scale going up to 8 is ridiculous. There is no reason to be anywhere near that high!>
It would also be possible to start running the Chemi-pure and Chaeto now, though I have heard this isn't the best idea.
<You could, but it would just be a waste. You will need significant water changes anyhow. Do be sure to clean the filter floss at least daily.>
There's a ton of advice on WWM in this regard, but it seems there are differences in opinion as to the best course of action to take. All ears!
<Live rock curing is where many reefers diverge in opinion. Oh, do you have a skimmer you can add? Would be very beneficial here.>
Thanks folks,
<Welcome, Scott V.>
Re: Cycling up new tank/Ammonia   1/31/11

Thanks Scott V.,
<Happy to help out!>
I did some testing mixing a new batch of saltwater with tank water; looks like an 80% water change will get me to at or near 2 ppm or so - assuming that it's a linear thing the tank has been at or near 10 ppm for a two to three days. Any odds that there's a chance of saving some life, or at that level am I pretty sure to be fighting for dead (albeit cycled and bacterially stocked) rock?
<Oh, there is assuredly some to save. Once all that is going to die is dead your levels would drop quite quickly. Just to confuse you even more I will throw out another method! Some I do know prefer to throw 80% of the rock in and let the die-off happen without any intervention. Then once the tank stabilizes add the remaining 20 to add what may have died off in the first addition. Pros and cons though. Keeping all that you can in all will inevitably lead to more biodiversity. In addition it will take time for the initial 80% to repopulate with anything that was killed off. But it is easier to add "pre-cured" (yours does not appear to be truly so), kill it to the point of much "pre-cured" or dead rock with some live rock. Because of the poor pre-cured rock in my and many areas I do advocate for uncured rock, which with levels this high I do suspect is what you actually received, to maintain all the biodiversity you can.>
Re: Cycling up new tank/Ammonia   1/31/11
Thanks again Scott V.,
<Welcome, again!>
Excellent. Have the ammonia down between 2-4ppm tonight, another 90% change tomorrow to keep it low and will keep up with it at that level. I ordered an Eshopps HOB to skim it out which should be here by the end of the week.
<All towards the right track. A skimmer will be a great addition. Both for now and later!>
The possibly pre-cured rock is probably my fault. LA is very good with giving you what you ask for,
<and not, especially with LR.>
and I asked for a lot of life and diversity - they probably sent very nice pieces that had a lot of die off in 48 hours out of the water.
<With true cured rock you will still see some die off. With your ammonia levels I'll bet it was raw rock. Not a bad thing. With your work now you may end up with better rock than much of the cured (read: mostly dead) rock that is slopped out there.>
I'll let ya know how it turns out when the cycle wraps up.
<Please do. I hate "cured" rock. There is no definition of the term that is followed. Heck, a guy can put dry rock in a tank for a few days and call it cured live rock! Caveat emptor!>

Live rock... Aiptasia troubles   8/18/10
Hello to my lifesaving crew,
<Hello Edie
I have a question and I didn't know how to find the answer anywhere else.
Please help!
I have Aiptasia, increasing in number, in my 90 gal. tank and I wanted to get some peppermint shrimp to take care of the problem. The only trouble was that I have an undesirable crab (according to your website) in one of the live rocks. The fish store man suggested putting the rock in fresh water and the crab would run out--then I could do away with it. (He was a hitchhiker on that rock when I got it.) There are some large Aiptasia on top, which may be killed by the fresh water, too, I don't know.
The crab did run out and die,
<Poor crab..>
so I took him out, and now I don't know if I should put the rock back into the tank with possible dead Aiptasia--wouldn't they pollute the tank?
<Possibly, yes, along with anything else that died in there>
There is lots of coralline algae on it, and I'd like to keep the rock, if possible. The rock was in fresh water for about an hour, and is now in a bucket with salt water again. Should I wait to see if the anemones are dead? How can I tell?
<It would probably be ok to put right back, but to be sure you could put an airstone in the bucket with the rock & a little carbon and test for phosphate & nitrate after a day or so. If they are both ok then place the rock back to the system>
When, and if, should I replace the rock? (It was my skunk cleaner shrimp's cleaning station, also, so kind of important to me.)
Should I cure the rock again? How, without other equipment, such as an aerator?
<Do buy one, they are very cheap and are very useful items to have>
Thanks for any suggestions you may have.
<No problem at all>
Thanks for any suggestions you may have.

Live Rock... curing, growing Coralline Alg. 1/24/10
<Hello Shawn>
I have read how Rob
<Who is Rob? Did you mean Bob?>
mentions keeping a newly set up reef tank dark and fishless for several months to promote coralline algae growth.
<Dark tanks do not promote coralline growth, light is needed.>
During this period (up to 6 months) should I be feeding the tank? If so with what? There would be no lights, corals, or fish at this time. Just the rock but I am assuming that the various critters would need some kind of nutrition to flourish.
<Your query is a little confusing as to your specific goal. Are we talking about curing live rock, growing coralline, or both?
Where did you get the six months from?>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Re Live Rock 1/25/10
<Hello Shawn>
Yeah, I meant Bob.
<Thought so.>
<<I have always suggested "regular" lighting during curing LR... RMF>>
My goal is to try and promote as much microfauna and coralline growth as possible. You guys mention how keeping it fishless can do this (the microfauna part anyway.
<Promoting microfauna will largely depend on the quality/life forms present on your live rock.
Refugiums with a small quantity of good seeded rock is an excellent way to promote microfauna growth and
will eventually spread through out the tank.>
So I am just wondering, after it has cycled with live rock, and there are no corals or fish, should I feed it anything so that the microfauna, worms, pods, continue to develop? I was thinking perhaps minimal Cyclop-Eeze or oyster eggs.
<If your tank/live rock has cycled, add your first fish or two. There will be enough nutrients present from uneaten food to promote microfauna growth. Proper lighting and water parameters will promote coralline growth. Do read here.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Live Rock Curing for Profit -- 11/09/2009
I thought I might try my hand at selling cured live rock that I would get shipped in. My question is I thought of trying to use a small plastic child's pool with a protein skimmer and for lighting I thought of using a
commercial grow light, but, I didn't know if a grow light would produce the right color spectrum or not. The light I'm looking at is a 1000 watt metal halide that would hang from the ceiling. Thanks for the help
<A metal halide is a metal halide, as long as the mogul types line up. Just get a 1000 W bulb in the spectrum you are looking for, and this will be fine. You shouldn't need to heavily light the storage container for the
live rock, however -- the goal is to let them run their course more than anything. Do consider Rubbermaid-type containers instead of the kiddie pools -- you likely can get a better, more reliable size and depth this
way. Hope this helps! -JustinN>

Live Rock/Cleaning 0/24/09
Hello All,
<Hi Matt>
I have not had a question for a while because I have been trying to salvage my tank of all the aiptasia and green bubble algae.
I am not even going to waste your time with system parameters because they are obviously awful and I am going tear down the tank and start over anyway. I do currently have a tank that I will transfer my two clowns to however. Now to my question.....I have literally hundreds of aiptasia and bubbles all over my live rock. I was pretty much thinking about killing off my live rock and starting over with it as base rock, and then purchasing more live rock to seed it with while I cycle through my new tank. I have read a lot about base rock and reseeding the rock, but not much on what the best way to basically kill off the rock is. Could you please shed some light on this for me? What is the best way for me to kill off my rock and start over with it?
<Soaking the rock in a freshwater tub for a few days should kill most if not all marine life forms on the rock. A good scrubbing and rinsing under freshwater should finish the job. Some folks have recommended adding
chlorine bleach to the soak cycle, about 8 ounces of bleach per 50 gallons of water. This will ensure a sure kill, and may be the better way to go.
With this procedure, the rock will need to have several fresh water rinses to eliminate any residual chlorine present on the rock. In your case, I'd likely go with the chlorine bleach method.>
Thanks so much for your help as always
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re Live Rock/Cleaning 9/24/09
<Hello Matt>
Wow, Thanks for the super quick response.
<You're welcome.>
Once I get this cycled again I really want to get an eel. I was thinking either the snowflake or zebra. Like I said, this is a 55 gal 4ft long. I only have the two common clowns right now. Would either of these be possible in the tank with nothing else to ever be added aside from the two clowns, and if so, which one would be the better choice?
<I suggest you read here and linked files above.
Thanks again for all your hard work and help.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Live Rock - Montipora Digitata 9/16/09
Hi crew,
I am just starting up my first marine system, and the live rock has been placed in the system about two weeks. Since the tank is cycling with normal lighting cycle I am experiencing quite some algae growth. Mainly some fine Green Hair Algae but also some Bryopsis. The live rock was collected from the coast in south China and shipped by air directly to me (in Beijing). I washed the live rock before placing it in the tank, but did not brush aggressively, merely shake and blow of detritus with a powerhead. Two large
pieces of live rock are apparently dead pieces of Montipora Digitata, with three or four tips of about 0.5 to 1 inch of live coral, colored blue-brown and with polyp extension. My question is: do I need to do anything if I would like to keep this coral alive, or will the fact that it is connected to the dead coral (partly overgrown with algae currently) not affect its chances or survival?
<Possibly either way...>
The tank is still cycling. This is a system of 150 gallon with two metal halides of 250W as lighting. During the cycling, I am doing water changes weekly of about 10%. The skimmer is a Bubble Magus 200E2 (local Chinese brand, rated for systems up to 390 gallon) with Eheim Pump 1264 and circulation is provided with an Atman return pump of 5000L/H and 2 Tunze 6105 pumps on a multicontroller. I have not tested the water yet since I suppose the tank is still cycling, but will do so soon.
<I would... Likely you could use some chemical filtration, and possibly larger water change outs, some supplementation for biominerals and alkalinity for sure>
Any advise would be appreciated. I have been reading for a long time on your site before setting up this tank, and have found it to be of great help, and my first and major reference for any question regarding marine or freshwater systems.
Henk Naert
<Do search on WWM for the terms mentioned for more background, direction.
Bob Fenner>

Dried out base rock 8/5/09
<Hi Chris<
Ok, so I went out and picked up this rock
Apparently it had been out of the water for a day or 2 and had a really bad smell (stuff dying off of course). I was also told that there were a fair amount of Mantis Shrimp in the rock (yea..) I brought the rock home, put it in an empty tank, filled it with saltwater and put a couple of power heads to circulate the water. My thinking behind this is that there may be some life still on the rock that I can salvage. Do you think that this is a possibility for anything else but the shrimp?
<If it has been out of the water for a day or two, is infested with mantis shrimp, and already stinks, I'd personally let it bake out in the sun and kill everything off after you pressure wash it. the algae will die off, but you do want to remove as much as you can before it goes in your tank. I would pressure wash it, let it dry in the sun for 4-5 days, then I would set up a bin with a powerhead and salt water to begin curing it again. You can get a rock from the store or a friends tank to put in there as well to help seed "good" life back into the rocks.
Will the algae go away if I leave it in an unlighted tank...
<bake it as suggested above, mostly to remove pest algae and any unwanted mantis shrimp>
Should I be doing anything else?
Please keep in mind that I'll probably keep it for a few months in this manner as I just don't have the time to set up the display tank.
Let me know
<Regards, Jessy>

High Phosphate! LR Curing, H2O quality  7/12/09
Hi there.
Great site and advice!
<Thank you.>
I have searched your site but can't seem to find the answers to my problem.
I have just begun a new set-up. It is a 5ftx2ftx2ft tank with a 3ft sump underneath. I am running an Octopus skimmer, which is doing a great job!.
This will be a FOWLR and I am in the process of curing about 50kgs of LR in the tank. There is no substrate yet. It's been running for about a week and have noticed high phosphate levels; around 1.5! Nitrate is 0. Nitrite is 0.
Ammonia is 0. Although I'm expecting this to spike?
<Possibly, but you should see ammonia at the very least by now.>
Is this a "normal" level of phosphate for a new setup?
<Not abnormal.>
I am waiting for everything to be close to perfect before introducing my first fish. Do I need to minimise the phosphate at this stage via adding Caulerpa in my sump of buying sponges?
<If you have a place to put a macroalgae such as a refugium it is a great addition to any system. Do look into Chaetomorpha instead though, much less of a headache.>
I haven't done a water change yet as I was told it's not necessary when curing.
<I do disagree with that advice. See:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm on
the ins and outs of curing live rock. Water changes are not life and death right now, but I would probably start (it is good practice to get into) after testing your source water you are using for phosphate.>
Thanks again.
John Catanzariti
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Stinky Live Rock    4/5/09
Wow, hello helpline....I need someone's advice on my stinky live rock.<Hello Jeff. Adam Jenkins here. I hope I can help> Went away for a week, came home to a power outage. The cat honestly stepped on the power switch that ran my 2 yr. old tank's life support.<This is the reason I like dogs>
All fish were out in a different QT tank, and are fine.<Lucky break> But all inverts died in the main tank, and have decomposed. Dozens of bristle worms, along with a total of about 25 snails, crabs, starfish, sea urchins.
The smell in here is not to be believed.<I can imagine> We scooped out all dead creatures, and will get a new "clean up crew" first thing tomorrow to scavenge up what we can't see/get. I took out half of the 210 gallons in order to replace with fresh sea water to dilute the smell. While getting my buckets ready to add it all in a young relative tried to help, and put the water hose directly into the tank, and filled my tank up with plain tap water. A million dead cope pods from the live rock were all floating at the top minutes afterwards. Couldn't siphon it out fast enough, everything is dead.
1. Will my live rocks need to be replaced now?
<Your live rock will not need replacing, but gently scrubbing the rock with a soft bristle brush to remove any excess dead stuff would be a good idea. Should help a bit with the smell too>
2.Did that kill off everything that was left alive?
<You should still have some life lurking about, but you should correct your salinity if you haven't already>
3.Will my tank re-cycle itself now with so much fresh water & ammonia from the decomposing creatures?
<I would definitely expect a recycle. I personally would hold of on purchasing a new clean up crew until it is complete>
4. Will replacing the stinky rocks from the sump with fresh, cured live rock take away the stink, and regenerate my living tank again?<Like I noted above, gently cleaning the rock will suffice. Although a couple of cured pieces of live rock to boost the bacteria population couldn't hurt>
I'm in such a disgusting mood right now, I don't even know what to ask.
I just want my tank alive and thriving again. I prided myself on all of the comments that my house never smelled like the walrus enclosure at Sea World. It now smells like a walrus died under the couch in here.
What is going on with this issue? Does live rock ever become live again after
such fresh water rinsing?<With a little patience and a bit of elbow grease you should be back up and running in no time>
Please help me. Thank you ahead of your response. Jeff.

Used LR... Overkill 03/26/2009
Next Question!
I have searched and get mixed results.
I bought LR used from an established tank (4+ years).
The seller was forthcoming and let me know that another buyer discovered Aiptasia after getting the rock in his tank.
<Not a huge deal is fixable.>
I currently have the rock in a QT tank (thank you WWM crew).
<Ahh, someone is listening!>
Would a pressure wash and freshwater soak remove undesirables?
<I would not do this. Pressure washing sounds like a potentially very effective way to propagate aiptasia. I would watch for any aiptasia and treat individually by using a syringe and injecting them with Kalk, lemon juice, boiling water, vinegar or the like.>
How long to soak in freshwater?
<No!!!! Do not soak. You will kill off most the beneficial life you are investing in!!!!>
Or is the only way to be sure to let the rock totally dry out?
<No!!! No!!! No!!! Then you have dead rock, not live rock!!!! Really, treating any individual aiptasia that might appear is the best way to move forward.>
Nathan in SC
<Mich who has visited Eric in SC but lives in PA>

Re: Live Rock, curing... posted  10/20/08 Should I have the skimmer on when I first put the live rock in my tank? <I would.> I have a 1100mm x 400 x 400 sump under my tank, what would you recommend I put in there. <Whatever you want or can fit.> Or should I leave it with nothing and just use it for extra water volume and put all my equipment in it. <Could do it either way, most put their skimmers, heaters, or any other equipment they have in there.> Kenny <Chris>

A couple of questions about live rock Live Rock'¦Shipping/Storing/Curing -- 09/29/08 Hi Eric (or whoever is on duty), <<Hey Ken'¦Eric here>> In the past I had purchased rock locally here in NJ even though it was more expensive than online, but I could pick the pieces that I want. <<Of benefit>> I am going to set up a second tank (70 gal Oceanic) and was thinking of buying the rock from Premium Aquatics. I heard that they had nice rock. <<I believe I have heard the same>> My first question has to do with the "life" that is said to come along with the cured rock. It was my understanding (maybe incorrectly) that you should pull off any sponges or macro algae and scrub the rock before putting it in your tank as it will most likely die off anyway and prolong the process. <<This is a suggested part of the curing process for new rock, yes'¦but not so much if the rock is indeed already cured>> Also it would be a waste of time to aquascape and then pull out the rock only to take a brush to it to get off the new die off. <<If you suspect the rock is not cured you should cure it yourself in a separate container'¦or be prepared to give the rock time to cure in the display before proceeding with stocking>> What is the general consensus with regards to this? Would you leave the life on it, or scrub it before putting it in the tank. <<Well Ken, when setting up a new system it is 'my' preference to place the rock un-scrubbed in the display to cure. This method has its disadvantages re nuisance alga growth and possible unwanted hitchhikers, but also yields the most the most bio-diversity'¦in my opinion>> Below is a sample of what I would be getting. http://www.premiumaquatics.com/live...ges/timora5.JPG http://www.premiumaquatics.com/liverock_images/timora5.JPG http://www.premiumaquatics.com/live...ges/timora1.JPG http://www.premiumaquatics.com/liverock_images/timora1.JPG <<That is some nice looking rock>> My second question has to do with how long rock can be out of water but packed in bags and boxed? <<Obviously the longer the rock is out of water the more life that may be compromised, but if kept wet at least, some of the fauna will survive'¦even if only to 'sprout anew' after some time in your tank>> A very large and very successful store here in NJ said that they stock rock that does not fit into their tank, bagged and boxed. He said that rock generally comes from overseas and sits for weeks in boxes as some come by ship since air freight is too expensive. <<I've heard of rock sitting on docks for days (sometimes under saltwater spray'¦sometimes not) until boxed and sold, and I've heard of the rock being wrapped in wet newspaper and then boxed and shipped and 'then' left to sit until sold'¦but I haven't heard that any actually comes by ship container>> I know airfreight is expensive but never heard of rock coming by container. <<Me neither'¦but it wouldn't surprise me'¦and probably no worse than 'storing' it for weeks. But of course this rock won't be as good as rock shipped fresh from the source to your door. And it certainly shouldn't be as expensive'¦but that doesn't mean it is not of use>> Normally I would not even ponder this and ask this question if it had come from someone other than the person that told me this. These people do have a large assortment of great shaped rocks and I would give this place a consideration except what they are saying seems to go against everything I have always heard. It's not like they are selling their rock as "dry rock". Please feel free to remove the link and store name if you do not like to mention retailers/wholesalers. <<This is not a problem>> If this is Eric, my 90 gallon SPS tank is not two years old and looks amazing. <<Ah great'¦I remember discussing this when I was in Kona last (Yikes! Has it been that long since my last trip?)>> You were right about anemones and corals. I finally realized and got it out of my tank after a few months. <<Ah'¦good>> Now if I could only get out the maroon clown (tiger shark disguised in a cute fish body). <<Can be little beasties for sure>> Thanks very much. Regards, Ken <<Good to hear from you again, Ken. Be chatting, EricR>>

R2: Live Rock'¦Shipping/Storing/Curing - 10/01/08 Hi Eric, <<Hey Ken>> I just want to clarify before I do order this rock tomorrow. They said that the rock is cured and I imagine that I should be able to tell by the way it smells, or doesn't smell when it arrives? <<Yes'¦though new fresh rock from the sea will also not smell bad when you get it, but would still need curing>> If I do leave on the macroalgae, is it all good or is some of it nuisance algae? <<Some macroalgae can be invasive, in particular Caulerpa species, but what I saw in the pictures looked okay'¦and probably won't last long once herbivores are introduced to the system>> If so, how can I differentiate the good from the bad? <<Not always easy'¦but I think you have little concern here. And any macroalgae that does survive will help with nutrient export/controlling the inevitable nuisance alga succession>> Also what is to say that these algae will actually grow in my tank rather than die? <<Indeed'¦no guarantees. Do remove if it makes you more comfortable>> Is it safe to say it will live, leave it on, and see what happens? <<I would, were this me/mine>> If some of the pieces that I will be using on the bottom of the tank as a foundation does have macroalgae, should this be removed as I would assume that they may not get much light there at all. <<Removing any that may be 'buried' is best, yes>> When the terms nuisance pests are used, I assume we mean visual? <<Ha! If only it were always that easy'¦ Some unwelcome hitchhikers/pests can come from within the nooks and crannies of the rock'¦only to be discovered days to weeks after introduction. But'¦if the rock has been well cured, this is of less concern as most will 'likely' have been discovered/removed by now'¦or simply starved>> Is there something that you can think of that if I see it, I should definitely remove? <<Predatory crabs/shrimp come to mind'¦ Do see this article on live rock here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm) and look among the links here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/invertidfaqs.htm) >> I just realized that I asked a ton of questions. <<No worries mate'¦and much info than I can pass here is posted on the site>> I am used to getting rock that is totally void of everything and now I am going in the other direction. <<Mmm, I see'¦ Well, this rock will be of much more interest, I assure you>> I just want to make sure that I get started on the right foot. Thanks again. Regards, Ken <<Be chatting. EricR>>

Live Rock, curing    9/28/08 Dear Crew, <Hi Oliver, Mich here.> First of all congratulations with your fantastic website, WWM and Bob's book did teach me almost everything I know about this beautiful hobby. <You, me and many others.> I recently moved to Egypt and decided to set up a reef tank. <Congrats! Egypt is beautiful. I spent several weeks there this May, even had a marriage proposal from a local, much to my boyfriends chagrin!> I am having a 35 gallon tank, 2 Fluval canister filters, <I would recommend a sump here instead of a canister filter if at all possible.> Macro Aqua Protein skimmer, chiller (very necessary here !!), <Oh yes, I'm well aware.> 2 powerheads, 40 pounds of live rock and a deep sand bed. My tank will be live rock and some small fish. I want to keep the bioload low. <Wise of you.> My questions are related to live rock / curing live rock. I did do a lot of research on your site but did not find the exact answers so I hope you can help me out. <OK.> 2 days ago I bought the 40 pounds of live rock. Unfortunately uncured LR, as cured one seems impossible to find here. The LR looks great with lots and lots of coralline algae on it. It smelled quite fresh and was probably just collected 2 days earlier so the decaying process did not start yet. <Or may be quite limited.> I rinsed everything in salt water and removed as much as possible decaying parts and put in a container with strong powerhead and aggressive skimming. First I put the container outside (because I was afraid of bad smell and because the owner of the shop advised me to do so) but after 2 hours I noticed water temperature was almost 90 degree F.... <Yikes!> I hope this did not kill my LR ??? <Well, didn't help but hopefully didn't do too much damage in that short of time.> Once I noticed I immediately put the container inside and the temperature is now 80 degree F. <Ahhh! Much better!> Ok, I put the container back inside and do plan to leave it there. <Very good.> My container has no extra lighting. <Will be fine.> I did read in one of your articles that curing LR can best be done in a poorly lit container. <Well, it limits algae growth, which is often a nuisance algae to start with!> I was just wondering if the lack of light is not going to affect the coralline algae on my LR ? <It may to a degree but shouldn't be too detrimental.> As said, they are really beautiful and I understand from your website that curing LR can take a while. <Doesn't sound like you will have much die off from how you describe the rock. Test your ammonia/nitrate/nitrite levels. I wouldn't be too surprised if you rock was done cycling.> Can they survive without extra lighting for several weeks? <Yes.> I do regular ammonium checks and do water changes whenever needed. <When you get your tank up and running it is better to get in the habit of doing frequent partial water changes, as you are likely losing trace elements that you are not testing for and the easiest and most economical way to replace them is via water exchange. More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/scottsh2ochgart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watchgantart.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/water.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/nutrientcontrol.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/maintenance/marineMaint.htm > Do you think this is OK or should I add extra supplements? <I would not add any supplements I wasn't testing for. How do you know if you are over or under dosing? In my opinion, frequent water changes are the best way to go.> While I am curing the LR in the container, my display tank is operational with sand bed inside and filters running. I was wondering what would be the difference if I would cure the LR not in the container but in the tank ? Would this be harmful? <No and this is what I would recommend you doing in this situation.> Nitrates accumulating in sand and filter media and difficulties to remove them? <The LR will help breakdown Nitrates along with other chemicals that could build up.> I ask this question because honestly I do not see immediately the difference between curing in a container or curing in my tank. <There really isn't any.> My container is quite big and the quantity of water I have to change would not be that different from the water changes I would have to do when using my display tank for curing the LR. I hope this is not a stupid question -) <No it is not a stupid question. It is rather well thought out, though I think you've come to the answer quite effectively on your own. Enjoy your time and Egypt and be careful driving!> Thanks a lot !! <Welcome!> Olivier Dubois <Michelle Lemech>

Live Rock Cycling/Curing 9/2/08 Hi, <Hello> I purchased 88lbs live rock online 8/25/08 and it arrived at my house two days later on 8/27/08 9am. I opened the box, removed some dead sponges and anything I can get my hands on. Then, I gave them a SW bath to remove whatever was left. I placed it in a 35gal tub with 1.025SW and 79° with a total flow of 1100gph. Two days later (8/29/08), I test for Nitrite and Nitrate and they are at the maximum levels my test kits would read (Tetra Test). The next day (day 3), I purchased a NH4 test kit and tested the water and it read between 0 and .25mg/l. Day 5, I do a 12 gallon water change and test NH4, NO2 and NO3 again and I get 0-.25mg/l, max, max respectively. Why is my Nitrite and Nitrate so high on the 5th day of cycling? <The rock is just processing the ammonia, going through the natural cycle. So long as there is detectable ammonia there will likely be detectible nitrite. All will of course end up as nitrate. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm> Is something wrong or do I have a weird cycle where the NH4 spike and decline took place in 2 days? <No, this is normal rock curing.> When should I do water changes? <There are no hard rules, just to keep the ammonia as low as possible to keep as much life as you can on the rock. Do run a skimmer if you have one and check out this link for more info on LR curing. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm> Thanks! <Welcome, Scott V.>

Reusing Live (probably dead now..) Rock, 8/22/08 Hey Crew, <Hi> It's been a while now since I've written, unfortunately a couple months back I had to shut my old 75 gallon tank down due to "personal issues".... However now, I have all of that taken care of and I am ready to start her back up, full blown reef this time! <Nice> (I actually plan on Soft Corals and Mushrooms to begin with, O.K. mix?) <Can work fine.> Now, to my question, when I took the tank down, I took out all of the LR and placed it in my backyard and it has now been sitting there for probably half a year withstanding all of the weather conditions we get here in Florida. What would be the best way to clean this rock off, as in kill everything on it (algaes, snails, even a little frog) and possibly use it in my new tank as base rock, with real LR on top, or scattered throughout it to seed it? <I would soak it in a freshwater/bleach solution for a couple days, rinse well, soak in freshwater and chlorine remover, rinse again, and you should be ok. Scrub off any dead material you see with a wire brush to try to limit adding it to the new tank.> Is this even plausible to be using this old rock, I hope so, because buying 90~ more pounds of LR would be devastating to the wallet! <Should work fine as long as you are willing to be patient and let a little bit of new live rock seed it.> Thanks, Christian <Welcome> <Chris>

Curing Live Rock 8/7/08 Hello, I'm in the process of setting up my 135g RR tank.  I'm curing 200 lbs of live rock that I bought from DrsFosterandSmith.  I have a 1200 mag return pump and a 1200 Maxijet for water circulation.  External skimmer is running full capacity through a 30 gal sump (will be refugium). <If you are not running a skimmer it can work wonders here.> I scrubbed the rock before putting it into my tank w/ salt tapwater.  After two days I did 100% water change, scrubbed the rock again and added live sand before putting the rock back in.  Then filled the tank w/ RO saltwater from my LFS.  It turns out the water they sold me was bad.  Ammonia was 0, but Nitrites were 25 (yes, 25......there's no point in there) they were off the charts high.  <Did you test this water beforehand? Do you know if it is the water or conditions in your tank?> And PH was almost zero. <!> Did their bad water ruin my tank? <No, but a large water change is in order.> Everybody keeps telling me "Just be patient and leave it alone".  Well, it's been 4 days and my rocks are turning green and the water is green.  I don't have any lights on in the tank. Last night I did a 60% water change w/ RO from LFS (this time w/ good levels).  But my Nitrites are still off the chart too high, reaching 25 instantly. <Indicative of the tank conditions, not the water you received.> My concern is that the ammonia never had a chance to run its cycle before the nitrites invaded. <Nitrite is part of that cycle.> When are the nitrates going to start kicking in????  <Soon, if not already.> Should I "Just be patient and leave it alone?" I'm worried that all my rock is going to be green.  BTW, it's not hairy green.....it's more like purple coralline algae, except it's green. Thanks, Susie <Welcome, a link explaining the process below, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm

Re: Curing Live Rock 8/7/08 Hello, I'm in the process of setting up my 135g RR tank. I'm curing 200 lbs of live rock that I bought from DrsFosterandSmith. I have a 1200 mag return pump and a 1200 Maxijet for water circulation. External skimmer is running full capacity through a 30 gal sump (will be refugium). <If you are not running a skimmer it can work wonders here.> >????< <<A skimmer will help your water quality, even whilst curing rock. This in turn keeps more of the fauna on the rock around.>> I scrubbed the rock before putting it into my tank w/ salt tapwater. After two days I did 100% water change, scrubbed the rock again and added live sand before putting the rock back in. Then filled the tank w/ RO saltwater from my LFS. It turns out the water they sold me was bad. Ammonia was 0, but Nitrites were 25 (yes, 25......there's no point in there) they were off the charts high. <Did you test this water beforehand? Do you know if it is the water or conditions in your tank?> >Yes, my tank water was showing high Ammonia before I added the LFS water. I tested LFS RO water straight from the jug and that's when I saw high levels of Nitrites. Now my Ammonia is zero and Nitrites crazy high.< <<It is possible you did not get great water. As the ammonia is converted to nitrite the ammonia will lower and nitrite will go up. The same will soon happen with nitrite to nitrate.>> And PH was almost zero. <!> Did their bad water ruin my tank? <No, but a large water change is in order.> >Can I do my water changes w/ tapwater? I read somewhere in your forum that you can cure live rock w/ tapwater.< <<As in mixed with a salt mix? Sure, if it is either aged or not chlorinated.>> Everybody keeps telling me "Just be patient and leave it alone". Well, it's been 4 days and my rocks are turning green and the water is green. I don't have any lights on in the tank. Last night I did a 60% water change w/ RO from LFS (this time w/ good levels). But my Nitrites are still off the chart too high, reaching 25 instantly. <Indicative of the tank conditions, not the water you received.> My concern is that the ammonia never had a chance to run its cycle before the nitrites invaded. <Nitrite is part of that cycle.> When are the nitrates going to start kicking in???? <Soon, if not already.> >Is good to have this green coralline algae in my tank?< <<No, it is not coralline. You will lose some through the curing process, improving the water quality will help keep as much as you can.>> >Should I keep doing water changes to get rid of the green water?< <<Yes.>> Should I "Just be patient and leave it alone?" I'm worried that all my rock is going to be green. BTW, it's not hairy green.....it's more like purple coralline algae, except it's green. Thanks, Susie <Welcome, a link explaining the process below, Scott V.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm >Thanks so much for all your help - you Rock!!! And you keep this awesome hobby alive, b/c w/o you most people would be tempted to give up. The marine industries are forever indebted to you!< <<Wow, you are very welcome and thank you, Scott V.>>

Re: Caribbean biotope stocking plan/cycling Stocking and Cycling Live Rock 6/13/08 Yo Scott! <Right back at ya!> One last question (for now!): <No problem.> I'm planning on purchasing some live rock and sand that are ocean cultured. I know this can be iffy, as there could be some BAD hitchhikers. I plan to allow for a long cycling process in order to watch out for them. <Yup...It's never a bad idea to quarantine all newly purchased livestock before placing it in the display aquarium.> However, with the ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate spikes that occur during cycling, I am afraid that putting nice rock with all kinds of life on it (and some die-off as well) at the same time as everything else will kill off all of the good stuff. <Well, you generally want to cure live rock in a separate vessel. There will be significant die off before the populations of micro and macro fauna on the rocks rebound.> The question is: Should I cycle the tank with base rock and some live sand, then incorporate ocean cultured sand and rock later, hoping it won't spike too badly, or should it all go in at the same time? Thanks again! Darby <I typically will cycle my rock outside of the display, to minimize the impact of the die off that inevitably occurs during this time. Then, it's a simple matter of adding all of the rock that you intend to use at one time. There are certainly other ways to approach this, but that's my technique. Alternatively, you could consider using some of the "dead" rock that is available on line now, such as Marco Rock, which is much less expensive than "live" rock, and will recruit desirable life forms and algae over time, particularly if you add some "live" rock along with it. Something to consider, I think! Best of luck with your efforts! Regards, Scott F.>

Nitrates & Stupidity 6/10/08 Hi I hope you can help me with a nitrate problem. <Should be able to.> I have been reading your articles & trying to follow your input. I have a 90g tank which I started 1 1/2 years ago. I started with a Rena 3 filter, Skilter protein skimmer & 2 Zoomed Powersweep powerheads with filters. I added 75 lbs live rock and after cycling added 40 lbs live sand. After the tank cycled I started adding small fish no more than 2 at a time. Things went wrong when I believed a LFS person & added 50 lbs live rock, (about 7 months ago) directly to the tank. Seems it wasn't really fully cured. <It should never be considered cured, there is almost always die off just from bringing it home/reorientation of the rock.> After numerous water changes, adding a denitrification filter (after 4 months gave up on it as the stink & the reduced ph made it impossible to live with) and reading your column I slowly removed all the bio media, added a Pentair 300 fluidized bed filter & removed 1 powerhead (tank getting too warm) and went up to a Remora protein skimmer. <A far better choice in skimmer. We will talk about the fluidized bed in a bit.> I have finally gotten the nitrates down to 20 but cannot get them further down. I have 1 Sm Yellow Tang, 1 Sm Blue Tang, 3 sm. Chromis, 1 Sixline Wrasse, 1 Anthias, 2 tiny Scooter Blennies, 1 Mandarin Goby, 1 Rubyhead Wrasse, cleaner crew of snails & hermit crabs, , 2-4" Maxima clams, Zoos, corals- Frogspawn, Elegance, Bubble, Hammer, Fox, Open Brain, Yellow Leather, Green Leather, Clove Polyp, 2 Ricordea, Green Star polyps, and a Bubble Anemone with Maroon Clown. I have a euro braced acrylic tank so putting another filter will be hard as I would have to cut into the bracing which only leaves some other type of canister filter which of course brings up the fact that I would be buying another "thing" to replace something that I already spent money on & frankly I am tired of thinking I'm getting a good product just to have it not be right. (ie-Skilter $99, denit.filter $175 & $225 flour. Light when I needed a MH light) <Another filter will not solve the problem anyhow.> So instead of trying/guessing/hoping I am simply going to ask someone who knows. What the heck should I do?????? <Hmmm, much to say. First off, the fluidized bed can trap detritus and produce nitrate just as the other biomedia, usually to a lesser extent. With the amount of live rock you have I would remove all the biomedia and let the live rock do the job. More of a natural approach that works very well. Next, your livestock list is not only stocked quite high for a 90, which contributes to the nitrate issue, but some in this mix just will not work. The Tangs will need more space in time and it is pushing it having one Dragonet (Scooter and Mandarins) in a system this size, three will starve in time. As for corals, the combination of Leathers, Euphylliid and Anemones is quite noxious, it will lead to trouble in time also.> Maybe I should just ignore the nitrate test (API) because through all of this I haven't lost any fish, or corals which all are growing, and have minimum brown algae, but I really want some Birdsnest & Acro corals & I know they won't be forgiving of bad water. <Or the potential tankmates.> Oh nitrite & ammo are reading 0. <An indication that your current filtration is doing the job.> Thanks for any input or suggestions you have. <Very welcome.> Down but not yet out! Tina <Hee, hang in there! Please see the link below and a quick search of WWM regarding allelopathy will shed some light on the issues mentioned above. Best of luck, Scott V.> http://wetwebmedia.com/cnidcompppt.htm

Two schools of thought... tank breakdown, LR Curing  6/1/08 Hi Saltwater gurus! I am contemplating dismantling my 30 gallon reef tank due to a severe outbreak of Valonia bubble algae. <Mmm, I take it from context that your desire is to rid the system of the pest algae> The Valonia came into my tank on a piece of coral that I did not initially notice. It's now everywhere! I have been advised by my retailer (two different associates) that I can accomplish the tank breakdown two ways and I am not sure which way is best. I want to get all new live rock and add new sand. I recognize I should keep at the minimum some of my current sand. The Live rock I currently have has so much of the Valonia that I want to toss it all. I cannot scrub or pry it off, I've tried. I've been told I can cycle the new live rock for 2 weeks in an aerated rubber tub, changing the salt water every couple of days to get rid of die off. <One approach> Then once the water tests perfectly, do the swap very quickly to not stress my livestock. The other suggestion was to remove my critters and place them in a rubber tub. Then cycle the rock and new sand in the aquarium itself for about a week using my Emperor 400 Bio wheel and my protein skimmer with lights etc... This seems like it would stress my animals more, but would be more effective for the cycling. I obviously do not want to harm my animals, I had them all two years with no casualties. All the while I want to make sure I get every piece of the Valonia out of my tank. Not an easy task, I can assure you. <You tell me what I know> Another question I have relates to my feather dusters. They popped up over the past two years and I really enjoy them. How are they moved or better yet, how do they deal with re-aquascaping? I have a medium cluster of 4 or 5 heads and then a single feather duster. Are their tube bodies extensive below the surface of the sand? <Possibly> Should I simply try to not to disturb as much of the surrounding sand. Can they be moved if they are about the size of half of my pinky finger when fully extended? <Yes... dig up the entire tubes, move all> I love this hobby, but am a bit overwhelmed by the thought of beginning this process and different schools of thought on how to proceed. That's why I am contacting the best. Thanks for your suggestions and ideas... Lori in Tampa, FL <Take your time in moving all, changing out water... I would go with the first route of new LR curing. Bob Fenner>

Curing live rock 5/31/08 Hi guys, <Hello Sal!> I'm in the process of curing live rock. I purchased 30 lbs and I just put it in a trash can with approx 20 gals of water. I have two powerheads generating 840 gal per hour in flow. I am running carbon in there also. My question is concerning my lack of a skimmer, which I know from reading all the FAQs is not ideal. <A skimmer is a good addition, personally considered required in my eyes.> My ammonia is off the chart and nitrite is 0. <Yikes.> I have been doing 50% water changes daily since I got the rock ( 2 days ). I'm trying to compensate for not having a skimmer with these water changes and a lot of water flow. Am I doing the right thing here? <Yes.> Are 50% daily water changes ok? <They are, I will go out on a limb here, I have done (hence the recommendation for skimming) and would recommend a 100% water change daily if your ammonia is so high.> Would increasing the volume of water the rock is sitting in be a significant help? <Yes, it can be, assuming your makeup water is ammonia free.> Do I need to be adding sodium bicarbonate if my water changes are 50% daily? <Not likely with any decent salt.> Thank you very much for your help. Long time fan of WWM, Sal Spinnato <Welcome, Scott V.>

Re: Curing live rock 6/1/08 Hi, <Hello again.> Thank you very much for the info. <Welcome.> I appreciate your help. So I'm going to continue daily 50 - 100% water changes until I can keep my ammonia under 1.0. Does this sound right? Also, should I continue large water changes if nitrite is over 10? <Yes and yes, keep these numbers low to keep as much life as possible on the rock.> Sal <Have fun, Scott V.>

Live rock DIY curing 05/21/08 Hi Crew! <Doug> I managed to acquire three tanks from someone getting out of the hobby for free - 225 gallons total. This is a big step from my current 10 gallon tank. <I'll say!> At current market prices in my area, enough live rock for this setup would run me nearly two thousand dollars. I know that some aquarists would say I should be more concerned with a solid setup than the bottom line, but unfortunately, I'm just not in a position to spend the same amounts of money as many of the other hard-core aquarists in my area, as I'm still in school full-time. Anyway, my plan was to have a "show layer" of live rock that consisted of 30 lbs of Tonga or so, and then the rest of it be a DIY "foundation layer". <Can be done... easily> First, wouldn't it be possible to "make" my own live rock by getting 20 or so pounds of refugium rubble along with a couple cups of substrate from my current established setup, placing it all in a big Rubbermaid container with a heater and some higher-SG water, and then throwing some rock in and not touching it for a month or so? <Mmm, yes... or directly in the tanks themselves> Various sites I've read around the web suggest a process along these lines, but I trust you guys/gals the most. Secondly, what type of rock would be a good candidate for curing? <The best... reef "base rock"... mainly calcium carbonate... can likely be had for about a dollar a pound in quantity... Other sources of CaCO3... limestone... quartzes of some sorts... dolomitious materials (composites of calcium and magnesium carbonates> I can get my hands on about 80 pounds of fossilized wood, <Mmm... I'd skip on this... very beautiful, most are principally silicates (SiO2), but there are often other undesirable components of lesser constituency> but I don't exactly have easy access to pieces of dead coral in the DC area. When I dig around in the woods behind my house, I see a lot of shale/slate material, which I think I would want to avoid. Any advice on where to start looking and what to look for in candidate specimens would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance for your consideration! -DS <Please take the long read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/marinvind1.htm scroll down to the section/s on Live Rock. Bob Fenner>

Please help...Live Rock Concern... prep., water quality...  05/02/2008 I have a new 55 gallon salt water aquarium, no fish yet, sand bottom, 2 Hydor 400gph centrifugal pumps, and base rock all of which have been in place for over a month and salinity and water tests all within normal ranges. This past Friday (3 days ago) I placed into my aquarium some beautiful, colorful dense live rock that I ordered and had shipped to my home. The rock was packed in a plastic container wrapped in a damp towel. <<Sounds good>> I scrubbed the rock with Kent Marine rock prep and rinsed it in salt water before placing it into my aquarium. <<Rinsing in just saltwater will suffice, no need to waste money on other products>> The rock is arranged to allow optimum filtration/circulation and I have added Kent Marine Liquid Calcium, Iodine and Strontium & Molybdenum as directed on the packaging as well as one 5ml of PurpleUp Coralline Algae Accelerator one time. <<Stop adding these additives, there is no need. Only add trace elements when your water test results, e.g. Calcium, dictate that additives are required. Leave the "purple Up" out completely as there is no need. Good basic water parameters and sufficient lighting will provide coralline algae>> In about 24 hours the water was once again clear in appearance and yesterday my water tested as follows: Ammonia 8, pH 7.7, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 1. <<Wow, that's a high level off ammonia. There must of been a large amount of die-off form the newly added live rock>> I have noticed just a very few worms at night but nothing that seems uncommon based off my research. Up to 48 hours after placing the live rock into my aquarium everything appeared to be looking good. This morning I came to check things out and at least 80% of the surface area of one larger piece of my rock is completely blanketed in a fuzzy sort of cotton-like white substance. The substance even grew completely over a purplish colored worm that was attached to the rock. Another rock not in contact with the fuzz covered rock is beginning to show small spots of this same white substance. Can you please advise what you believe this substance to be and how I should address the issue? <<Its algae growth, remove it with an old tooth brush attached to the end of a syphon hose, scrub the rock and the syphon will draw out the algae>> Thank you for your time and expertise~ Monica <<Thanks for the questions, hope this helps. Regards, A Nixon>>

Curing Live Rock In The Display Aquarium?  3/30/08 Hello, <Hi there! Scott F. in today!> Thanks again for all the wonderful help. The other day I received about 22lbs of Fiji live rock and I was curing in two 5gal buckets for about one day. I ran into a problem that I needed the buckets for some other issues and I had to place the live rock in my display tank. Tank is 46 gal running for about a month with about 10lbs of cured live rock. I also seeded the tank from my old tank. Also, no fish had been added but I have been feeding some food for pods to grow. <Good. You don't really want fishes or invertebrates residing in the system in which you are curing the live rock.> I was originally going to cure the rock outside the tank and let a new Flame Angel and some new snails that I bought with the live rock help settle the display tank. (I also have the problem of looking at a tank with nothing in it). <I understand your thoughts, but you really don't want to "cycle" a system with fishes. There are alternatives which are covered in this sight and elsewhere.> I have an Aqua C Remora Skimmer w/ Maxi-jet 1200 powering it, two Maxi-jet 1200 with Hydor Flow rotators for current, aqua clear 30 near the bottom, and also active carbon filter that is off of an old eclipse tank that I had. I have an aragonite sand bed that is about 5" in the back of tank and less than an 1" in the front. <Sounds fine. If you are going to use mechanical filtration (ie; the Aqua Clear), you'll need to make sure that the media contained within it are cleaned/replaced regularly.> The idea behind what I have described is to try to keep nutrients to a minimum and to also remove unwanted organics from the water to prevent an ammonia spike and kill/crash the tank. <Please do utilize protein skimming to help remove many organic compounds before they have a chance to accumulate. This will go a long way towards cycling the aquarium efficiently.> My main concern is that I won't be able to keep the ammonia down during the curing period. I don't have many other options available to cure the rock in so I am against the wall. Can you suggest any ideas on how to keep the tank from crashing? <As above. Protein skimming is your first line of defense and, when used in conjunction with chemical filtration media (ie; activated carbon/Polyfilter, etc.), plays a near priceless role in water quality management. I would NOT keep any fishes in the aquarium while the rock is curing. Find alternative homes for them during this process. BTW, we have tremendous volumes of information about live rock curing here on WWM, so do spend a bit of time searching on this topic here on the site.> Unfortunately I thought about everything ahead of time but like other things those plans didn't work out. <Well, it's important to be flexible. Do consider the minor tweaks that we discussed here.> I appreciate any help you can give. <A pleasure. Regards, Scott F.>

One bad apple...er, rock. Live Rock Curing 3/24/08 Folks, <Scott> Many thanks for your timely assistance in the past, and I hope you don't mind what I trust will be a quick question. <Nope.> I'm in the process of setting up a 90-gallon FOWLR. Got the rock 11 days ago, cleaned it off, removed all the obvious dead stuff. The ammonia levels spiked immediately and have remained at 8.0 since day three, with nitrites coming up to just .50. <Not unusual at all, mine took almost two weeks before ammonia levels dropped to 0.> I've done three 50 percent water changes, while removing and gently scrubbing the rock twice (I can't do larger water changes, since copper in our well water requires us to use R/O water, and the filter simply isn't that fast). <Would be of great benefit using a skimmer in the curing tank along with activated carbon.> I went over the rock again today, and most have a fairly clean smell, with one or two still holding a whiff of hydrogen sulfide. One exceptionally large, attractive piece, though, still has an overpowering sulfide smell -- I assume a dead burrowing clam or sponge is holed up deep inside where I can't see or reach. <More than likely.> I've placed the offending rock in a bucket of saltwater; would it make sense to try to cycle that one separately, with a heater and aeration? Or has more than a week and a half at lethal ammonia level pretty much fried everything anyway, and I should just leave it in the tank to continue to cycle there? <I would leave be with the other rock, why rush the process creating more work for yourself, it does take time. Eventually, you will see new life emerging from the rock once the curing process is complete and the rock is placed in the main system.> I figure there's no way any macro-inverts (tubeworms, etc.) have survived such high ammonia levels. I saw dead bristle worms by the second or third day. Any guidance would be appreciated. Meanwhile, I'm keeping the smelly rock sequestered in its bucket. <A good article here on live rock and curing. Do read. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm Thanks, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Scott

Re: Live Rock Curing 3/25/08 James, <Scott> Thanks for the very prompt reply. I'd scoured the FAQs on the WWM site, but got the impression that such a high ammonia reading for such a prolonged period was unusual. Glad to hear it's not. ><Not unusual at all, mine took almost two weeks before ammonia levels dropped to 0.> ><Would be of great benefit using a skimmer in the curing tank along with activated carbon.> I should have mentioned -- I've been skimming hard since I started the curing process, and have been using activated charcoal. <Good> ><A good article here on live rock and curing. Do read. >http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm In fact, that was one of the articles that rang the biggest alarm bells for me, since it talks about doing water changes to keep the ammonia level as close to zero as possible -- something I haven't been able to come close to. The line about high ammonia "leaving you with base rock devoid of everything except bacteria" is what I've been concerned about. <Understand here. May be worth the extra money to get cured live rock. You will still have some die off but it will be minimal.> Thanks again, <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)> Scott

Re: new setup  3/9/08 Hey Anthony, <<Andrew...> Any suggestions on buying live rock for a new setup? I want to buy about 100 pounds for my 90 gallon. I was also wondering if I can cure it in the tank, and how exactly would that be done? <<This all depends on the tank regards livestock. If its void of livestock, then, buy either cured or uncured, makes no difference. If its uncured, simply cure it in the tank, and keep up with water changes. The choice of live rock is really down to availability and preference. Fiji is one of the most common types of rock. However, more and more are starting to go for aquacultured live rock now. In all reality, this is a good form of rock to choose as it has zero impact on the reefs around the world. Thanks again for your help. John <<Hope this helps. A Nixon>>

Re: Filtration Challenge 03/10/2008 Good morning Andrew. <<Hi...>> I haven't purchased the live rock yet, but I was figuring about 85 to 100 lbs. (35 lbs. from my current 55 gal. tank plus 50 or 60 lbs. new). <<If you shoot for about 125lbs in there, there will be no need for the added wet/dry filtration and you can use one of the below tanks as a refugium perhaps and the other for the skimmer.. Just a couple of options there for you>> <<Thanks for the follow up. A Nixon>>

Re: Filtration Challenge 03/10/2008... chatting... referral... Sounds like live rock is the way to go. One last follow up . . . My LFS keeps the live rock in a big bath. It looks brown and lifeless until you take it home and clean the mud off. It has some coralline algae and other little signs of life but it doesn't quite look like what you see in the books. Do you think this live rock will provide decent filtration or should I try to buy something fancier like the decorator rock they sell at liverocknreef.com? <<What you have described above is what a lot of live rock starts out like. Its mainly like this because of the conditions its stored in. Once its in your tank and established, with good lighting etc etc you'll get nice coralline growth ( Pinks, purples etc etc ) and critters>> Thanks again, Brendon <<Thanks. A Nixon>>

Water Changes, LR curing, Stocking 2/19/08 Too many suggestions, I'm getting confused. I have a 65 gallon tank with 85 lbs of live rock. I've waited my 6 weeks actually 7 now. I was told by one shop not to change the water continuously but to top up when it evaporated which I did, I was also told not to put the lights on. I did my testing and everything was fine. <OK, this is one approach to curing rock. Personally I prefer many water changes and keeping the rock lit to save as much life on the rock as possible.> A couple of days ago I went to another shop and was given different information, came home and turned on the lights. Brown algae is turning up (wondered why we didn't have any), little things are coming out of the rock, and I did a 5 gallon water change. I have 20 hermit crabs and a star polyp, everything is fine so far. Questions I know I need snails, would I be better to get snails and not ad more crabs? <Sparingly, you definitely do not need any more crabs, they will put any snails at risk.> With our tank size how much water change would you recommend, I'm planning on weekly. Is this correct? <Yes, about 10%, with a larger change in order now. Test your nitrate and perform water changes until the level is down (say 5 ppm or lower).> I am not rushing, just reading a lot. <I will refer you to more.> Thank you for your help Marilee <Welcome, some links below for you to explore, Scott V.> http://wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/gastropo.htm http://wetwebmedia.com/marine/inverts/arthropoda/crabs/hermitcrabs.htm

Re: Water Changes, LR curing, Stocking 2/20/08 You truly are a god send to newbie's as well as those more experienced. Many thanks again Marilee <Thank you for the kind words and writing, Scott V.>

Feed Live Rock? (I Would!) -- 01/24/08 Hello! <<Hey!>> I recently set up a 20 gallon marine aquarium. <<Neat!>> I have a hang-on-tank filter, a skimmer, and 20 lbs. live rock. <<Okay>> I wanted to set up the tank with the live rock and wait a few weeks before purchasing any fish or invertebrates, just to get a "feel" for the equipment, maintaining the water quality, etc. <<Indeed'¦and maybe to let the tank 'cycle?' Do also consider waiting a few 'months' before adding any fishes. This will give emergent life in and on the rock some time to establish'¦and can provide some very interesting observation of its own>> The problem is that a multitude of living creatures came with the rock. <<Ah yes!>> I have probably 3 or 4 brittle stars with brown & tan striped "legs", 3 or 4 tiny white brittle stars, one six- "legged" starfish about the size of a dime, a red & white striped shrimp, and lots of little worms and copepods. <<Very cool>> I asked the guy at the aquarium shop who sold me the rock what if anything I should be feeding these things, and all he said was "maybe some flakes for the shrimp", and not to feed the brittle stars anything. <<Mmm, must say I disagree'¦ Not feeding these organisms (as well as the many you haven't seen yet) will limit their ability to reproduce as well as cause them to turn on one another/other emergent life for food. The 'flakes' are okay, but for this type of feeding (much like feeding a refugium) I like to utilize shrimp pellets. They sink easily, and most everything finds something they like about them. Just a few a day will do>> I also have what appear to be almost-microscopic tube worms or anemones (sorry no pics). <<Likely the former>> I know brittle stars eat "leftovers" and detritus, but since I don't have any fish, I don't have any leftovers! <<Indeed'¦but the brittle stars 'love' shrimp pellets I've had the rock and creatures for about a week. I've fed the shrimp and stars some marine flakes I bought at PetCo, and they've been eating them. My question is, how often (if at all) and what should I feed these things? <<As explained>> I don't want to foul the water, but I don't want them to starve. <<Agreed'¦but a few pellets a day should be fine and will do little to extend the Nitrogen cycle (you are monitoring this, yes?) I've been feeding them about every other evening. Too much? <<Nope>> Too little? <<Probably not>> Am I doing it all wrong? <<You're doing fine>> I've found conflicting info online, and my 2 local aquarium store owners are no help! <<Mmm, yes'¦differences of opinions'¦and no different here [grin]>> Sorry this e-mail's so long! <<No worries>> Mandy <<Regards, EricR>>

Re: Dancing with the Devil - New Tank and curing LR, and now, Reef stkg.  1/15/08 Hi Scott, Thanks for the advice. <Very welcome Ranjith.> Since there is a DSB, will it not digest the nitrates by the time the rock cures? <Theoretically it could over time with no other nitrate being produced. The reality is that it will not consume nitrates at the rate they will likely be produce curing rock. You will need some water changes, and should anyhow.> That is the main point of the DSB right? To control nitrates. <Yes.> I agree there will be a lot of nitrates but left alone, the DSB should digest all of it right? <Over time.> Also, what made you conclude that anaerobic activity was going on? <Hmm.. mentioned as a possibility. Actually unlikely at the depth we were talking about.> Any idea how I can keep the beach sand from flying around? <Only by controlling where and how your tank's flow is dispersed.> Will it help if I add slightly larger particle substrate around half inch above the sand? <This can help, but in an active reef tank the smaller particles will eventually resurface. Larger particles may also act as a detritus trap.> I plan to make this by using the mixer to grind some crushed coral. That should help in culturing larger pods as well right? <Somewhat, a refugium is better for this purpose.> Regarding the surge You think I should reduce the volume? <No, it sounds like a good plan.> I was thinking of an interval of 15-30 odd seconds between surges. Faster in the day and slower at night. <OK, will be fine.> I plan to keep the following critters. 1. Zooanthids and sea mats (around 10 varieties fragged to create the multi colour mix) <You may want to place these on rocks separated from the main aquascaping. Although they are quite nice, they can multiply very fast and become quite a nuisance.> 2. Mushrooms - (around 5-6 varieties fragged to create the multi colour mix) 3. Leather coral (mushroom leather, finger leather)- 2-3 pieces grown from frags. 4. elegance coral and hammer coral - one each <I urge you to skip the elegance, read the link below.> http://www.wetwebmedia.com/elegance.htm 5. sea pen (maybe) -- one <Difficult to keep.> 6. xenia 7. star polyps 8. Feather dusters (as many as possible :D) 9. Fromia Indica starfish - 2 10. Shrimps (4-6) <What kind?> 11. black serpent stars - 2 12. 1 giant clam <Careful with placement. Many species will need to be placed directly under your light.> 13. blue branching sponge <Again, any specific sponge? Some are much more suitable than others for aquaria.> Fishes: 1. Group of fairy wrasse (3-5) 2. Trio of multispined dwarf angel < Centropyge multispinus? Nice fish, but stick with only one. Too many territoriality issues here.> 3. Regal tang - 1 4. Long nose Hawkfish -- 1 <This fish may put some of your inverts in danger.> 5. Pair of Sebae clowns or skunk clowns <Go for tank bred Sebaes if possible.> 6. Bi-color blenny - 1 Can you suggest any butterfly that would leave the above mentioned corals alone along with the feather dusters? <One of the longnose butterflies should work, but will be pushing the tank's long term capacity in my opinion.> An anemone for the clowns would surely be out of the question right? <With all the mix above, I wouldn't.> Cheers again Ranjith < I hope this helps, Scott V.>

Live Rock Cycling   1/9/08 Thank you Scott F. :) I just got your reply. I was laughing my ass off! I didn't realize how many times I said totally awesome! That was too funny! I guess I'm really excited about this new "challenge". <I'm really excited for you on the new adventure! Geek that I am, I get stoked when fellow fish geeks start an exciting new project!> Thank you for the compliments. In the pic the right side of the peak looks a lot more tight than what it really is. I thought the same thing. <Good. I had a feeling that it was more open than it looked! Overall, the aquascape looks pretty good. I think it will really "pop" when the corals are placed and start to establish.> My ammonia is off the scale! I added more Prime, and 2 bags of ChemiPure in the wet/dry filter. I'm afraid to do a water change. Won't that restart the whole cycle over again? I am testing daily. It's now at 8.0! What should I do? Let it run it's course since I only have snails and crabs or should I do a water change? <Well, I don't think that the snails will be too happy with this ammonia! If you can find them an alternate home until the ammonia and nitrite return to undetectable levels. I would hang in there and keep monitoring the water quality. Such a spike is completely normal when establishing a new system with live rock. Just be patient and stay on top of things.> Thank you so much for your help!! YOU ARE TOTALLY AWESOME! ;) Rachel S. <Well, like- thanks! Regards, Scott F.>

Cooked LR... Life Remains -- 11/17/07 Hello, <Hi Joe, Mich here.> I just have a simple live rock question. I happened to be curing 40 pounds of LR in a 10 gallon tank when the heater went (stuck on). <Ooops!> The readout on the thermometer was 109.5 F!!! <Yiiikes!> As I pulled the rock out and placed them into buckets, the water definitely felt hot. <I'm sure it did!> Is it safe to assume that I have 40 pounds of base rock now or could anything have survived the intense heat? <You might be surprised. You certainly have lost a good deal of the life in this rock, but I think there may still be quite a bit of life remaining. Many microscopic organisms can survive intense conditions, thus the reason Autoclaves are used... which increases temperature and pressure so liquids can be heated beyond their boiling points.> I returned them to the tank with fresh water and a new heater. I'm afraid I know the answer but just wanted to be sure for I have not seen a sign of life in the week that has passed since. <Likely most of your macroscopic life has perished but there may still be some on the microscopic level.> Thanks, Joe in Chicago. <Welcome, Mich in the Poconos>

Curing LR and constant water changes 11/3/07 I am refinishing a tank and will cure my live rock while I finish. I have read your curing FAQs and posts. I will be curing 90-100 pounds in two connected Rubbermaid containers with an ASM G2 skimmer, heater, and Ocean Runner 2500 to provide flow between tanks and charcoal in the tank. I will be holding off on lighting for at least the first week. I know I want some ammonia build up for the nitrifying bacteria to get going, but I want to keep as much flora and fauna as possible and would like to plan for an average schedule of water changes daily. In order to strike a good balance what level of water change would you suggest daily for the first ten days -- two weeks? 25% per day? I have an extra tank for mixing, a 60 GPD ro/di filter and extra pumps. I think I can get these water changes done in 15 minutes per day. If I do this will I be significantly extending the curing cycle? <John, you will want to do enough water changes to keep the ammonia and nitrites below 1 ppm . How much water and how often you will need to change it depends on your rock and how much die off you are having. The idea is to keep these numbers low enough to prevent things from dying that would otherwise be fine once in your tank. I would also urge you to consider lighting the rock for this same reason (some people do, some don't, I do). Vigorous flow to keep things stirred up and getting it to your skimmer will also help to control ammonia and nitrites. Your rock will be seeing plenty of ammonia for the nitrifying bacteria even with aggressive water changes. The time it will take depends again on your rock, but with more water changes it should actually happen faster since you will have less die off. > Thanks, John <Happy reefing, Scott V.>

Re: Curing and constant water changes 11/4/07 Thanks Scott. <Welcome John.>I am awaiting my new lights. Would a single Corallife PC10000K 60 watt be OK? I know you prefer actinics. <Actually I think it will be the perfect light and spectrum for your purposes until you get your light. The actinics are only needed if you are using a bulb deficient on the blue end, the 10k is not. Have fun with your newly refinished tank and rock, Scott V.>

Re: Curing and constant water changes  -- 11/17/07 Thanks Scott and all the rest of you. <You are welcome John. I apologize for my slow response here, I have been away for the last week. > I started curing a week ago. I ordered it from Walt Smith through my LFS and picked it up within a couple hours of arrival. I put it into the tank immediately (no cleaning except rinsing) and started it curing. I followed your advice and put one Corallife 10000k 65W PC over the rocks for about 4 hours per day. <I would do 8-10 hours a day. > Aside from an 80% water change on day 3 which I had to do because of a leak <No fun! > in one of the Rubbermaid bins, I haven't done much except skim. There is a pretty good skim going on. I have yet to see an Ammonia spike. I am sure there was enough organic matter to start one. My temp is 78, salinity 1.022, pH 8.25 and I am using RO/DI water. <Sounds good.> If my ammonia and Nitrite levels remain low, close to 0 , but nitrates are up around 30 did I just miss the spike by making a water change? <It is possible that the biological filtration in the rock has kept up with your spikes. The ammonia and nitrites are there; they are just getting processed into nitrates as fast as they are produced. The skimming definitely helps. > Should I toss a shrimp in the tank to try to ignite it? <No, it sounds like everything is going fine. Like you said, there is plenty of organic matter, it is just getting processed as expected. > Incidentally with the high nitrates I am concerned about an algae explosion even with the lights at 4 hours. I would actually love it if the curing stayed low-level and left me with some flora and fauna. < Algae is always a possibility here, but nitrates are part of the game here. I would just do a large water change after the rock is cured to bring the nitrates back down to a reasonable level. With your ammonia and nitrite levels staying down you should be able to preserve a lot of the life on your rock. > Thanks again, John <Good luck, Scott V.>

Removing copper from a tank -- FAQ to copper linked/suggested researching.  7/21/07 Hello Crew: <Good Afternoon, Doug. Andrea here today.> Thank you all the great information you provide! <Much obliged.> I have an established 125 gallon FOWLR tank. All is well with it. <Fantastic!> I am looking to add some more live rock to the tank and have a question. Can I cure live rock in a tank that has ever had copper in it? <Read this, and the linked articles at the top. Should answer all your questions: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/copperfa.htm> The tank was used about 6 months ago as a quarantine tank for Ich. It has been dry and empty for 6 months. Is there a product I can use to clean it that will guarantee to remove all traces of copper? <Read the links above.> My LFS just got a shipment of beautiful LR that is brimming with life. I would really hate to turn it into base rock while curing it! Is it best for me to just go buy a 55 gallon tank that has never been coppered? <Read above. After that, it is your choice. You should have all the information you need to make an informed decision. Best of luck!> Doug M

LR curing large scale process??   7/16/07 <hello Robert> I sell and build nano reef setups. A typical setup only uses 4 or 5 lbs of small pieces, and maybe a half gallon of sand. I'm trying to look into the feasibility of bringing in my own cured (or uncured) rock, cycling it and keeping it long enough to get a good coralline growth on the rock, then use the rock in my setups. <This is something I have done before to help in the sales of Liverock> I'm looking for known methods that work to cure and "grow out" rocks in relatively small batches thru an assembly line sort of process to process about 40 to 50 lbs week. hopefully in no more than 2 tanks. The sand will (should) be incorporated into the rock tanks to mature as well. Would have to use MH lighting (no outdoor facilities to utilize ... yet) <The 40-50lbs processing a week is not feasible to culture in just 2 tanks. When the LFS I consulted did this project we used (10) 300gallon Rubbermaid tanks that were plumbed to one another and were 46" off the ground. We then used (5) 300g Rubbermaid tanks for sumps. (2) rock tanks per sump. We plumbed all 5 sumps in series also. We had the live sand in the sumps were detritus and critters would settle out. This makes sand detritivore kits easy to harvest and breed. The Liverock was placed in the 10 upper tubs and the calcium was maintained at 440ppm and the Alkalinity at 3.5meq/l. The lighting was 400w SE Metal Halide lighting over each tub. It takes 30 days to get the rock to completely cure and an additional 6 weeks to color up with corallines. Phosphates are the biggest issue when doing this and they need to be extremely low. Use a large quantity of phosphate resins and Activated Carbon. Then cycle only 2 tanks at a time for Live rock harvest/replacement. This helps cure new rock faster because of the established bacterial colonies. The mini cycle spikes after new rock was added was only 48 hours long. Another thing to do is take mushroom corals and chop them up and then toss them into the tubs. They will colonize the liverock and give more life forms to the rock. Star polyps are another thing to spread in the tubs as they grow quickly. Feed the live rock phytoplankton daily so filter feeders breed/grow/spread. This helps also. The initial setup requires about 400 square feet of space but will pay off later.> Do you know where there may be such a publication or help to get me a foundation to build from? Thanks. <Start researching here... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AqBizSubWebIndex/Biz%20Index/Biz%20index.htm> <Rich aka Mr. Firemouth>

Old Rocks...New System  -- 07/03/07 Hi, <Hello Philip, Mich here.> I intend to start up a FOWLR tank. <How nice!> On the contrary, a friend of mine has decided to drop out, and he has 100 lbs or so live rocks for my disposal. <This is convenient!> These rocks are however not in very good condition as I can see the corallines are bleaching. <That's ok, with improved tank conditions the coralline should bounce back.> Are these rocks re-usable in my new tank? <Certainly. Though adding a piece or two of new live rock would likely benefit your system as well.> What sort of treatment I need to take to cure them. <The rock should be cured if your friend's tank is still up and running. So there is likely nothing you will need to do. The coralline will likely improve with frequent water changes.> Regards <Cheers! Mich> Philip Chow

Cure and placement of live rock. Fun With Live Rock... -- 06/14/07 Hello and thanks in advance again. <Happy to be of service! Scott F. with you tonight!> I'm in the process of setting up a new saltwater tank and have been reading much of your articles. However, I'm still unsure on a good procedure for the adding of live rock and sand. <Okay..> First, I wanted to cure the rock in the new display tank. I don't mind waiting the few weeks for the cycle process. I bought enough aragonite sand for about 4 inches. Should I cure the rock in the tank on the bare bottom, without the sand, and once the rock cures, add the sand, and reposition the cured rocks on top of the sand bed? <Well, it's your call, really. The optimal procedure would be to cure the live rock in a separate container, such as a plastic garbage can, and then add the cured live rock to your aquarium. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with curing the rock in your display aquarium, as long as you change the water frequently, and provide adequate protein skimming. Of course, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES will you add ANY animals to the aquarium until the rock is fully cured and your ammonia and nitrite levels return to undetectable levels!> Or, should I put the sand in the tank, place the rock on the sand, and let the cycle occur, and just clean the sand as needed during the process? <That's also an acceptable approach, and provides the added benefit of possibly seeding the sand with organisms that emerge from the rock during the process.> Or, should I spend extra and buy "fully cured rock" and place the aragonite sand (around 4-5inches) and rock in the tank together? <Once again, it's your call. Keep in mind that even "fully cured" live rock will incur some die-off during the shipping/transport process, and you should still monitor water chemistry carefully to confirm acceptable environmental parameters before adding any animals.> Also, the tank is 180G (72 inches long and 24 inches wide). If I want to have around 135 lbs of live rock, and 100 lbs of dry base rock, can I cure all the rock at one time, or should I stagger the rock curing into stages? <If it were me, I'd try to add all of the rock at the same time. I like to disturb the "hardscape" of the aquarium as little as possible once it's set up, so I don't care for the piece-by-piece additions of rock, myself. However, as long as the additional rock is fully cured when you add it to an established system, there is little risk, IMO.> Oh, another question about total tank water turnover. Does the total tank water turnover include the filter gph, and the total powerheads gph combined, or is water turnover only filtered water movement, and powerheads only water movement? Any ideas would be appreciated, Thanks, Sol in New York City <Good question, Sol. I am not personally aware of any standardized definition of the term "turnover" in the hobby, although I am known by my friends (you know who you are!) to overlook the obvious now and then! I suspect that if you ask 10 different hobbyists, you'll get 10 different answers! In my opinion, "turnover" is the total volume of water moved through the system by pumps, powerheads, and filters. On the other hand, there are those who define "turnover" as only the volume of water that flows through the system sump in a given hour...It goes on and on! Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.>

Live rock curing......where do I begin? & FO stkg.    4/23/07 What's up Crew, I can't get enough of your site, if it wasn't for your site, I probably would have cooked up some form of hydrochloric acid within my last reef set-up. <Yikes!> But on to bigger and better things:  I am currently setting up a 135 gal predator tank with a 50 gal sump with a 10 gal refugium, 1 Aqua-C remora pro skimmer, vortex diatom filter, <Not to be run continuously...> 5"DSB and total flow rate approx 1400 gph (future inhabitants will include 1-miniatus grouper, 1-bird wrasse, 1-porcipine puffer, 1- zebra moray eel, 1- niger trigger). <Mmm... all this won't fit here... see re these species "average" maximum size...>   I know that it is pretty bland selection, but do you see anything wrong with my choices? <Mmm, mostly too much biomass or too little volume of system> But what really is keeping me up at night (honestly) is my liverock situation.  I intend on acquiring about 85 lbs of dried Fiji liverock to seed with about 30 pounds of uncured premium Fiji rock.  I know that this will take awhile (how long I am guessing 4-6 weeks), but obviously if I cant sleep at night, time is something that I have a lot of.  Is this too much rock for a predator tank (not giving enough room for the inhabitants to roam), or should I step it up to the minimum of 1lb per gallon?   <Isn't too much weight or volume here...> Also can/should I run my Kalkwasser reactor while my tank is cycling or would that be a waste of money and time? <I would run it... to offset the large reductive situation of "curing", die-off... and for practice...> Please let me know, the sleeping pills that I am taking for my insomnia is enabling me from driving to work (I WISH). Thanks Again, Chris <Do rest well... but study re the fish list/species above... 135 gallons won't accommodate these fishes... for long... even if they are all started very small. Bob Fenner>

New 30 Gallon, Collecting Live Rock & Cure Cycle Gone Crazy  4/18/07 Hello Guys! <Hoi, como 'sta?> Jason here, greetings from the Philippines ...  You guys and reading the site has helped me tons designing and putting thought into my project. <Ah, yes> I'm currently setting up the plumbing, lights, etc for my 30 gallon tank.  I plan to start with FOWLR/refuge with DSB. On April 7th, I had the opportunity to collect my own live rock, yes legally too :)  It was a couple hours drive, and I place the rock in a cooler with lots of sea water.  Should I have aerated the cooler with an airstone during the drive? <Mmm... maybe... for this short a trip... likely okay w/o> Anyway, back to the messy part.  A couple days before the trip, I setup a separate 30 gallon quarantine tank.  By the time I collected the rock, the tank had aged salt water for less than 24 hours (I think this was a big no-no).  I used the powerhead that came with the tank, and used a fan to keep the tank around 81F. Salinity was 1.023 My acclimation was a bit harsh.  I let the cooler sit for an hour, to allow the water to reach a somewhat same temperature.  Then I put a gallon of the sea water in my own tank.  Then I put a gallon of my tank water into the cooler.  After letting it sit for another 20 minutes, I put the live rock into my tank. I was weighing two bad situations .. put the live rock in a place where there is better water flow but a harsher acclimation, or take a more gradual acclimation process, but leave the rocks sit without any water flow.  What should I have done here? <Mmm... this is likely fine as well... All depends really on the types and amounts of "life" on/in the rock... Do know that a good deal of this material is "knocked off" commercially... all large algae, sponges, ascidians... as most all of this dies easily, pollutes... kills a good deal of the rest... And that "standard practices" in cleaning (scrubbing, blasting with water, misting for days... eliminates most all other biota, including undesirables... which you're likely to have preserved.> Everything was great in the quarantine tank .. for 24 hours.  Then I noticed worms dieing off in a corner. <Ah, yes> I sucked those up, and decided to do a 30 percent water change.  More die-off and 4 days later, doing 30 percent water changes a day, pretty much all of the cool tube worms, and other hitch-hikers have died. <Very common> Disappointed, and the water was so cloudy and stinky, I stopped doing water changes after 5 days.  I just did top-offs to maintain salinity and let nature take its course.  I think my mistake here was I should have done water changes immediately after I saw *any* ammonia increase .. and larger than 30%.  What would you have done? <Mmm, the monitoring and water changes for sure... but also, likely would have either picked rock with less life on it (under other rock) and/or placed all in a much larger, better filtered, circulated system> Now its April 18th, and pretty much everything is dead in my tank, but I'm sure I have some great bacteria in my rock now :)  It was very cloudy at some point, but the cloudiness has been replaced by some fresh brown algae, yay. <A "good" sign...> How do I prevent such a huge die-off, so the next time I place my live rock in a fresh quarantine tank, at least something survives?  My guess is to 1) aerate the cooler, <Would help> 2) monitor every couple hours for ammonia <Okay> 2) do 50% water changes at any ammonia increase 3) suck up any worms as they die, 4) use aged salt water more than 24 hours old.  Did I miss anything?  What is the correct procedure for maintaining life of a newly collected live rock in a quarantine tank? <First off... to be picky re the quality, quantity of rock selected... second, to decide whether to initially "cure" in or out of water...> My initial idea was that this rock would still be looking good at this point.  However, seeing that I have my algae bloom, should I still wait for 2 more weeks (or even longer) to let the cycle continue before bringing in a cleanup crew of snails and hermit crabs? A week from now, I will have my main tank complete. Should I use some of this ugly-live rock as a base .. or should I start fresh again?   <I'd do the former> I will be doing more live rock collecting, but do not want to repeat the same mistakes! You guys take care! Jason <Please do read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

LR Question, HI... curing, making...    4/12/07 I live in Hawaii and we are planning for a future big tank. In the mean time we picked up a 12g Nano tank to practice water conditions. I put in 7lbs of cured Molokai LR. We might put in some cleaner shrimp, snails, and maybe one fish. To get ready for our big tank I want to store just LR in our open garage for a few months or longer. I also want to convert dead rock to live so I was thinking of using 20 gallon containers. <Can be done> Would a 200gph powerhead be enough flow? <Yes... better by far with a sponge intake screen... to sponsor some mechanical filtration> Do I need to have some sort of filtration system? <This is a very good idea, yes> Can I put the cover on so debris doesn't go in? Should I put sand in there also so I can just swap it to the new tank? <I would do this in separate tanks/containers... easier to keep/clean> Do I need lights for this long a period? <Some folks say no... but at least some ambient light is recommended... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm and the linked files above... BTW, am wondering what the current law/s are re collecting "coral skeletons" in HI (how much material in a given day... how high above the high tide mark...). Please do relate to us your experiences here... as am very interested myself. A hui hou! Bob Fenner, mauka of Kailua-Kona>

Curing Rock / Tank Cycle  3/30/07 Greetings again from the warm islands of the Philippines (maybe it's the pollution in Manila :) <Greetings from the'¦cold, wet UK -- (no explanation)> I will be setting up a new 20 gallon tank/with 10 gallon refuge.  I will also be getting some uncured rock, cured rock, dead sand, and live sand. Should I cure the uncured rock in a separate tank?  If I had not really thought too much, I would just stick all the rock (cured and uncured rock)...sand (dead and alive) together in the tank, at the same time, and let everything cycle. However, after thinking about it, if I put the sand together at the same time as the curing of the rock, the sand might absorb too much ... should I put the sand in later? .. I also thought I should put the cured rock a week or two after the un-cured rock cures. <Jason, you are right in thinking this through. One important factor will be the depth of the sandbed you are intending to include. If you are using DSB for de-nitrification etc then this will have the ability to store the excess nutrients expelled from the curing live rock and this may, depending on the amount of die-off, saturate the sand bed's capabilities this early on. But with a little maintenance this should be manageable. I would put the uncured rock in first, leave it to cycle alone for a short while, combined with regular water changes, maybe two weeks. Then add the other rock and the sands together and these will not, comparatively, introduce many more nutrients. Then complete the curing process as normal, maybe a little extended -- 6/8 weeks http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm > I did check the FAQ!! :) Jason <Hope I've helped but you were on the right track through your reading so thank you for researching first. Olly>

Re: Curing Rock / Tank Cycle  3/30/07 Hi Olly - I used to live in wet London for 2 years. <Further north, in Nottingham - Robin Hood Land> My response below: > let everything cycle. However, after thinking about it, if I put the sand together at the same time as the curing of the rock, the sand might absorb too much ... should I put the sand in later? .. I also thought I should put the cured rock a week or two after the un-cured rock cures. > <Jason, you are right in thinking this through. One important factor will be the depth of the sanded you are intending to include. If you are using DSB for de-nitrification etc then this will have the ability to store the excess nutrients expelled from the curing live rock and this may, depending on the amount of die-off, saturate the sand bed's capabilities this early on. But with a little maintenance this should be manageable I will be using an 8-10inch DSB.  So if I put the rock and sand at the same time, I'll saturate the capabilities, and this is a bad thing?  Thus put the rock in later?  Just wanted to be sure. <All I'm suggesting is that the bacteria that will be necessary to process the die-off from the un-cured live rock will probably not be present in sufficient quantities to handle all of the nutrients. The bacteria will catch up eventually but this time in between may allow ammonia etc to accumulate in the system and in the sand bed> > maintenance this should be manageable. I would put > the uncured rock in first, leave it to cycle alone > for a short while, combined with regular water > changes, maybe two weeks. Then add the other rock So cure rock for the first two weeks, with daily water changes?  I thought it was suggested not to do any water changes during a tank cycle? <You are curing the live rock initially and it is important to do water changes at this point, specifically if the ammonia level rise to around 1.0 and combine it with aggressive skimming if possible. Essentially, you will be curing the 'un-cured rock' for the first few weeks, then the cycling will begin after that, once that rock has enough beneficial bacteria to process what's being produced -- equilibrium.   Thank you! Jason > and the sands together and these will not, comparatively, introduce many more nutrients. Then complete the curing process as normal, maybe a little extended -- 6/8 weeks > http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm <Thanks again, Olly>

New rock old rock and cycling problem?? -- 03/18/07 Hi guys. <Rochelle> I'm transitioning to a bigger tank. I set up a new 55g saltwater tank a week ago. I added from my established 30g tank... 10 gal of water, some live sand sprinkled on top of the new 40# of crushed coral, the rinsed carbon filter and a live rock, in hopes of moving things along a little quicker. after day 4 things looked great! no ammonia, no nitrites and on 10ppm nitrates, assumably due to the brown algae in the established tank from the water I used. so I added a damsel. Things went well... he lived. my best friend owns a pet store so I got the inside scoop on the new live rock coming in, I had to have some!! it's gorgeous Fiji! <Mmm... still... better to "cure" this elsewhere...> so I picked out about 5 pounds after we rinsed it off and I brought it home and picked off the dead plants and sponges, that was day 5. now my ammonia level, on day 8, is going up currently at 1.0 and my nitrites are 1.0 <Both toxic...> and nitrates are 40 PH is good at 8 4. I know those parameters aren't horrible, bit I have some fragile critters and I like near perfect water. <Move either the "old" life or the new rock, stat.!> I'm confused. my parameters in my other tank never increased or decreased no mater how much I was poking around in there, never ammonia or nitrites. do I do a water change if this keeps up?  do I leave it alone? is it cycling again? <It's toxified by dying life on the new LR...> maybe I interrupted something by using stuff from my established tank? still lots of dead stuff on the new rock? <Yes> eventually everything from my established tank will be going to the new one, slowly of course to prevent shock. <I wouldn't worry re this... move the new LR or "old stuff" now...> I feel uncomfortable adding any more live rock from the established tank due to the amount of baby sea stars living on them. and my brown starfish has split and is somewhere regenerating he could be on the rocks. I guess my question is.... do I leave my 55g alone a let the live rock cycle and cure? <I would NOT> Do I do water changes to reduce the ammonia and nitrites? if I do a water change will the ammonia and nitrites increase again? <Source needs to be separated... PRONTO> I have a yellow sea slug nudibranch thing, a 10" red sea star, 8-10 baby sea stars, pencil urchin, pincushion urchin, the dumbest hermit crab on earth, an emerald crab, 2 gobies, a brown star fish that his split into 3 pieces, and 4 damsels. they kinda need a bigger home. I don't want to kill anything, I know this will be time consuming since my live rock has to acclimated in cuz of the baby stars. I'm not sure what to do here. I want to do things quickly but safely. thanks for your help Sheli <Bob Fenner> Post cycling pH jump  -- 03/15/07 Hi crew, <George> I've been reading your FAQs even before I started my setup, and can only say thank you for all your efforts.  I humbly admit while I have kept a simple successful saltwater tank in my past for a few years, the one I am starting now is beginning to humble me more so. <One of the qualities I seek for myself in this involvement> Brief overview: 75 gallon hex tank, 95 pounds partly cured live rock (from a store my fellow reef nut has used for a decade) and 100 lbs live sand (Ocean Direct by Carib sea), sump (which I've used until my 24x12x17 refugium came in). Allowed it to cycle in tank and measured pH, refractive index kept at 1.23-1.24, amm, nitrite, and nitrate daily.  All went smoothly all along, not too much debris.  Used deionized tap water (large cartridge type system. no $ yet for an RO sys).  2 weeks ago, all readings finally rested at 0, pH steady at 8.2-8.4, sp. grav at 1.024.even nitrates, and almost simultaneously I began to see the beginnings of the diatom bloom.  Waited 5 more days to make sure readings stayed low, an then ordered cleanup crew. consisting of 10 Nassarius, 10 Ceriths, 5 Turbos, some micro stars and mini brittles (about 120 total), a bottle of live copepods and 2 scarlet cleaner shrimp as well as some rhodophyte and coin Caulerpa; 2-3 cups Chaetomorpha in the fuge (Inland Aquatics, and Live Aquaria source).  At the same time I began setting up a small acclimation/QT tank figuring by time that was done cycling I could start looking for fish.  Again, every single day I measured everything. and all parameters were in line.  The only negative seemed to be the diatoms starting to take off. <Not necessarily harmful> On the day all the inverts arrived, suddenly -i.e., within a 1 day period. the pH had jumped to 8.8.  I tested 3 times to be sure, tested the water I was using to make up the salt mix (which by the way is Reef Crystals by Kent). Immediately instituted a 30% water change, then began acclimation over 3-4 hrs (used very very slow addition of 10% bag volume every 15 min or so). All is still alive, but I can't stop the climbing pH.  I've been employing a stop gap measure of water changes and using pH down to slowly adjust (it's sulfuric acid, not phosphate based).  All the while Amm, Nitrite, Nitrate remain zero.  Any suggestions or clues or remedies?  100% water change? <I would not fool with the pH here... I suspect this is an effect, perhaps artifactual of the algae (Chaetomorpha) addition... At any length, the pH will drift down of its own accord... with time, reductive events in the system. Don't panic! Bob Fenner> Your advice is greatly appreciated !

Re: Post cycling pH jump   3/15/07 Cheers Bob.  I agree...I don't like altering acid-base chemistry by additives except on occasion, and this was one.  The pH bounce back suggested something more. <Yes> I've now noted the pH is the AM after a few hrs in the darkness is ~8.2...and after lights on a few hrs it presumably is climbing. <Bingo> Figured I should also do some testing of with/without aeration to see the dynamics there.  Seaclone skimmer has been running about 1 week also, producing a fair but not great yield of skimmate (yes...this will be replaced by a more efficient skimmer someday...maybe soon); thinking of adding airstone in sump section to test buffering and gas exchange (indirectly).  So I'll be wary of the O2/CO2 issue and carbonate/bicarb chemistry going on...without use of additives, I think I may be able to find a better balance. <Time will tell> Keep up the awesome & noble work.  You're reaching a wider audience than any classroom or publication could reach here! George <Ahh, the Net... what will come next? Something like "Star Trek"... and then? BobF> Low ph during cycling, yep.   3/8/07 Hey guys and girls, I am helping my uncle set up his tank. He started his cycle last Saturday. He called me today and said his tanks PH is 7.4. Here is his setup: 75 gallon w/ a 3 inch sandbed 55 gallon refugium w/ a 6 inch sandbed 50 lbs. of Kaelini live rock that he is cycling his tank with Ammonia .5 Nitrite 0 Nitrate 0 Great water movement After some readings, I recommended to him not to run his lights during his cycle. Could this be why his PH is so low? <Mmm, only part of the equation. "Is" mostly the reductive effects of the "die-off" of parts of the LR biota> Also are there any solutions like baking soda to raise his PH to normal? Thanks, Greg <All sorts... Please read (see the indices, use the search tool) on WWM re LR Curing, Alkalinity... Bob Fenner>

Live Rock/Curing 3/5/07 I've been pouring over the FAQ's and I'm so confused! I started up a 55 gallon 5 months ago w/out <No abbreviations, please.> LR and all the LFS told me <was> I should have put the LR in when I started in order for it to cycle with the tank. <Yes, if uncured.> If I put it <in> now, my tank would recycle and it would be problematic, <with animal life present, yes.> unless I cured it separately, and I don't have the room for that. I have since, in essence, started over due to persistent ich. I changed out the substrate (siphoning out the dust), did a 50% water change (total of 75%) and dropped the salinity to 1.009 for a week (fish are in a QT, inverts in a Rubbermaid, husband getting annoyed). <Hee, hee, usually the other way around, wife getting annoyed.> Then I raised the salinity to 1.024 and bought 70lbs of Fiji premium to cure in the tank. Now I'm reading in the LR FAQ's not to do that. HELP! Am I killing the rock? <Mmm, nothing wrong with curing the live rock in the display tank as long as there is no animal life present.  Not the best way to go if your livestock has to be in smaller quarters during the curing.  Weekly water changes will be required, and siphon off any dead matter in the process.  I like using a turkey baster during this time to blow debris, dead matter off the rock where it can be siphoned off the bottom.  This could take three to four weeks depending on when the ammonia level returns to zero.  Generally, during the process, the ammonia reading is off the charts.  Use of a protein skimmer will help much during the curing process in removing dissolved organic matter.> I'm 4 days into curing, the rock is turning white, from what I'm reading that is normal. <Yes, die off is occurring and in due time most animal life that was present on the rock, should return.> I've also read two schools of thought, to change water or not...what are your thoughts? <I'd follow our advice on curing live rock, do search/read.> If so, how much and when? I've already done one water change. Should I put some Biro Spira in to aid in cycling? <Not necessary, but after a couple weeks I would use carbon filtration to aid in water purification.  Any sooner than this would be a waste, as the carbon's effectiveness wouldn't last a day.> Thank you for your guidance and experience! Jennifer <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

Re:  Live Rock/Curing 3/6/07 Wow. Salty Dog. I feel honored. you're a legend! <Oh no, you've got me confused with Mr. Fenner.> OK, I'm feeling better now!  Whew. thank you! <You're welcome.> Yes, my ammonia is way off the charts and so are the nitrites. <Will be.> I'm concerned about the critters in the live rock but I've read in the FAQ's that whatever is deep in the rock will be ok. <Most will.  I've got some select Lalo Rock I've had for over a year, and critters are still popping out from time to time.> I couldn't find an article on a step by step curing of Live Rock so I've been trying to gather from all the LR curing FAQs. <Have you read here and related links below the article?   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm> You stated using a turkey baster (better not use that one at Thanksgiving...again, husband might get ticked) <A little fish flavoring to the turkey may not be that bad.> to clean off dead matter so does that mean you don't brush it off (I've read that in FAQs).. to me that would be kinder and gentler to the rock and fauna. <Very much so.> Also, lights on or off? <Definitely lights out for the entire curing process or nuisance algae will proliferate, and we certainly do not want that, do we.> Thank you so much! Jennifer <You're welcome Jennifer, and thank you for your kind words.  James (Salty Dog)>

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