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FAQs about Curing Live Rock 1

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 2, Curing LR 3Curing LR 4, Curing LR 5, Curing LR 6, Curing LR 7, Curing LR 8, Live Rock in General, Live Rock LR Life Identification, Selection, Shipping/Moving, Curing Live Rock, Placement, Lighting, Water Quality, Live Rock Studies in Fiji Collaboration & Charts, Sumps, RefugiumsFaux Rock,

Raw Live Rock being processed (pre-cured) at WSI's facility in Fiji.

Why Liverock Needs Cured Hi Bob, Anthony, and Steve, how are you? <Very well, thank you.> I setup my 125 FO tank week ago and I added the live rock 3 days ago. My liverock is fresh. I collect them from the sea myself and I put them in a box with a little water to keep them wet. A couple of hours later the liverock is in my tank. Today, I tested for ammonia and its 0.3 ppm. How come? <Quite simple reason, things are dying. There are many sponges that cannot be exposed to air. They will die not matter what if they come in contact with air. And there are many other organisms that will not survive in the confines of an aquarium or others that are suffering from the abrupt change in lighting.> I mean these live rocks are fresh from the sea to my tank how come there is an ammonia reading? When the rocks arrived they were a little hot, about 27 degrees. My tank water was 25 degrees, so I left them in my room for like 15 minutes before adding them. Thanks! <Have a nice day. -Steven Pro>

RE: My live rock Bob- Thanks for the help. Based on your suggestions and after reading the FAQ's. I have a few more questions. Here's my new plan of action. Tell me what you think. First, I'm going to pull all the rock out of the tank and pull the rest of those "stems" and scrub the grey/white/black/ die off that has built up over the past few days.  <A lot of work, but a good idea> I am then going to place the rock in the tank in a fashion similar to its final aquascape. I have a Rio 3100 split to two returns and 6 Rio 600's in the tank for circulation. two are low facing the front glass. two are mid-level on opposite sides and two are right in the rock structure. my fixture consisting of two 175W 10K MH's and 2 65W ultra-actinic CF's will be left on 12/day. 25% water change every week for 3-4 weeks, followed by 50-75% when cured. After 4 weeks, I will introduce my blue legs and scarlet hermits and turbo snails and other cleaners. Sound good? <Yes... coupled with testing... do the water changes if/when your ammonia or nitrite approach 1.0ppm whether it's time or not...> Now for questions. I've noticed that my coralline is dying back/turning white. What can I do to prevent this?  Try to keep alkalinity and biomineral levels up...> Also, is it safe to add a pH buffer while curing? <Yes my friend. A good idea...> When I take the pieces out to remove the "stems" what would you suggest to do to try to get rid of mantis and worms?  <Give the rock a good look see... hose out opening with a stiff stream from a submersible pump (recirculating seawater in a plastic tub...) to blast out these organisms a bit... This is about all... super salty water, all fresh, noxious chemicals will do more harm to the life you want to keep on/in the rock...> You sounded pretty sure that the dip I used didn't work.  <Assuredly... a slightly elevated spg soln. (1.030 if memory serves) did not, will not do anything but "refresh" this life...> Well, I have to go. The sopranos are coming on soon. Thanks in advance for all the help. <Keep singing! Bob Fenner> Jeff Young

My live rock Bob- First, thanks for all the previous help at ffexpress. <You're welcome> I have a new 120 RR setup, with the essentials being a Max-Reef 300, and a Berlin Turbo skimmer. I decided to try curing my own rock for the first time and I just got my uncured rock from ffexpress and went through the hours of scrubbing and plucking. Each piece of Fiji rock was covered (on one side) by long macro algae which I pulled off as best I could. Some 1/4" to 1/2" "stems" remain protruding from the rock. Should I have removed those too, or is it okay to leave it?  <Best to pull "the stems" as they will rot, continue to extend the curing process, cost more in synthetic water... This is why I like and openly expound on the Walt Smith (yes, he is also a friend of mine) product... as of the six places that "collect" live rock in Fiji, his is the only one that really knocks the muck, sponges, macro-algae/kelp! off and rinses most of the worms, shrimps... out before packaging and sending the product on... the cheapy rock is false economy... as you well know... now> I also dipped each piece in a bucket of saline water, about 1.030, to remove pests for about 3 min.s, as suggested by ffexpress.  <Really? Amazing to me... this salinity, time would do very little IME...> I only saw like 6 or seven worms and removed them. Now, I see a ton of small 1" worms on the tank floor squirming. This is causing me to worry. If the dip didn't get these worms, could I have missed a mantis shrimp or two?  <Of a certainty, yes> I also found a crab. He resembled a Mithrax crab, but he didn't look green. Is he okay to leave in there?  <At this point yes... if it gets to big... a couple or more inches across... I'd likely bait it out and remove> Also, when I do my water changes as the rock cures, should I scrub the die-off and scum, or leave it? <Take a read through the "Curing Live Rock" FAQs posted on the website: www.WetWebMedia.com... You will find most all I can think of that might arise described there...> Thanks again. Jeff Young <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

High Nitrate Solutions, Progress WOW!!!! , I must say after reading your web site , YOU ARE AWESOME!!, GREAT WEBSITE!!!!!!!  I have a few questions.... I know you must get a lot but It seems like you enjoy helping people. <Yes, thank you> Okay I have a 30g Fish Only with live rock (10-15lbs) for a year now. There is only one living fish -from many dead ones- it is a tomato clown. I just added a Yellow tang a week ago. -Seems to be doing good. After all the deaths and such I almost gave up on this hobby , but I want to come back. <Very good> lighting is junk- just some regular Fluorescents I just ordered some Power Compacts , 36" 96watt - arriving soon Filter is a Millennium 2000 - the air thing is turned off...(should I turn it on?) Carbon and Nitrate Sponge are in the filter. Crushed coral is the substrate. temp 80, salt level perfect. <Good on the lighting... and likely yes on the air thing...> I know you would recommend a protein skimmer, I just ordered one. (after reading your faq I found out that SEACLONE is terrible) so I don't know if I should return in or not??? 30g Fish Only/Live Rock , want to get invertebrates in future. NOT going to reef. <For such a small size, type system, no worries... try the SeaClone, see how you like it> It is not possible for me to do a sump. Unfortunately <Hmm, keep dreaming, looking...> It seems I have always had a high nitrates , 80-100 ppm , I do a water change they go to 20ppm and they come back to 80ppm in a few days. Would a protein skimmer help nitrate levels , is the sea clone too weak for a 30g FO/ future Invertebrates? <Perhaps by itself... but with boosted lighting, macroalgae growth/use of the nitrates... other avenues listed under "Nitrates" FAQs on the www.WetWebMedia.com> I tried KENT Nitrate Sponge and it did not seem to help. <Good company, bad product, idea all the way around...> Should I get some live sand or more live rock to help nitrate levels?  <Not sand... but yes on the rock...> If so how much? and how much can I add at one time. <Depends... on how cured it is... a pound to two per gallon total... a few to several pounds at a go...> THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!!!!! sorry for the book, I just have sooooo many questions and I want to make this tank work out finally. Luke <Press on my friend... you are on the verge of self-discovery. Bob Fenner> Is 45lbs too much for my application?? I saw a special for a 45lb box live rock at FFExpress. is that too much to add at one time? <<Unfortunately too likely yes... Better to cure this amount for an existing tank of your size "off site" and place it when all evidence of cycling (ammonia, nitrites) is gone.> Thanks again!!!!! <You're welcome my friend. Bob Fenner> Luke

Re: Luke's 30g Luke, Lorenzo Gonzalez here, an associate of Bob's, helping him with a re-engineering of wetwebmedia.com... <And more!> I myself just installed a 36" 10k PC lamp over my 35g (36wx12dx14h) - you won't BELIEVE the difference. (I got mine from Aquarium Hobbyist Supply, and built the hood at Home Depot) <That's it Zo, you're answering these queries from here out> I'm with Bob on all his recommendations, but especially the live rock. You should stack it in there as high and deep as you can afford, selecting pieces that allow as much possible 'water-space' in between, for good water flow, and nooks and crannies for your residents. Don't forget to leave some space/ledges for your inverts to move into later on! You're going to LOVE that 96W PC/CF, and thanks for visiting Bob's site! <Oh no you don't... It's OUR site!> -Lorenzo <Bob Fenner, who has warned you about all this help.>

Re: 45lbs of live rock in one shot!/Zo' >would 45lbs be too much??? or too much to add at one time. I saw a  >special on Fiji live rock at FFExpress , 45lb box. Luke, The box special is great for setting up a new tank. But yours is already pretty established... and you don't want to cure all that rock in your main system! (Yeah, it may say "fully cured!" - NOT!) <You're cracking me up Zo'ster> If you can set up a secondary tank, or a Rubbermaid bin, with a powerhead, heater and some ordinary fluorescents (like your old tank lighting!) you can cure the rock yourself. Do small, frequent water changes in the holding tank, and move the rock into the main system just 2-3 pounds at a time, once every couple of days, for a couple/few weeks, starting maybe 7-10 days after you unpack it. <Hmm, well put... have you considered a job-starving as a pet-fish writer?> Even if it -has- been at Walt's in Fiji curing, then curing at FFExpress or similar for a few weeks (very unlikely), and is reasonably well cured before it leaves FFExpress, the shipping process itself is going to knock it all for a loop, all over again. (Though not as bad as the initial trip from ocean to Walt's, and from Fiji to California) <Couldn't/wouldn't agree with you more...> I know it sounds slow, disciplined, but that's my approach. Bob may have a different opinion, but I've read every single word he's written on the site and in the CMA... so I suspect he'll concur. :-) Lorenzo <Agreed. Bob F>

LR assistance Hello Bob, <Hey there> Well, I have been through a rough few weeks but with your advise I seem to have made it through! <Ah, great to hear> I don't know if you recall but I was the white coralline with high Alk SOS. The alk has stabilized at around 5.0 <Fine...> I added my other 35 pounds of LR and it took 4 days to cycle. <Wow, fast...> This batch is by far better than the last. Already this batch has yielded peanut worms, feather dusters, sea mat (I think) at least three different types of Macro-algae, purple, red and green coralline, and each day I find something new. <Neat> Its hard to believe all that is going on in there!! I am awestruck by it all!! <Me too, and I'm not even there> I have learned a few things from this experience. That there are a lot of good people willing to lend a hand (like yourself) there is always lots to learn! and my LFS is actually pretty good for advise and supplies (pretty rare from what I've read). <Yes to all in my estimation> Thanks again Bob for all of your help! I would recommend you to anyone!! <Ah, very gratifying to read. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Best Regards, Rob Lipic

Good Questions on LR Curing, What Do I actually do for a Living? I have a question. I am curing my own live rock, it's only been a week but my ammonia levels have already gone down to zero and the skimmer cup isn't pulling very much out anymore. Is there a chance that the rock is almost done curing? <Yes indeed> That's what I read in a book on how you know when it's done but yet it's only been a week. Go figure. There is some lime green algae growing. <Ahh, another steady indication that your system is on its way... cycled> So I guess you read the last e-mail I sent you to your aol address about a week ago. <Yes... am an old timer, still having a few ISP's...> I can't wait to get out of the military and go to college.  <A logical progression. Much to dream, plan about...> So what is your job in San Diego?  <Hmm, well... I'll assume you mean "for money": I "manage" my rental properties (call the real plumber, electrician... have friends in need paint them...), watch/manage my stock investments (not a whole lot of money, but keeps me in Top Ramen), and "help" my friends in the trade (okay, they put up with me bugging them, taking photographs at their places...), and do what I can on the internet answering queries, selling images... And guess what? Every day I run out of time! Scarce enough for my daily roster of doing something: for exercise, to improve my mind, to aid the planet, stay on good terms with others...> We will be there in June for 3 weeks. We can't wait, my husband misses home very much. I am craving Old Town Mexican Cafe in the old city. Well I'll go hope to hear back from ya soon. <Ahh, macanudo! Que comida! The food is still wonderful there... though a bit crowded during "the season"> Sincerely, Lianne T Carroll :)~ <Be chatting my friend. Roberto Fenner>

Bleaching Hi, I have a 46 gallon reef tank with Fiji live rock. About a month ago the live  rock started to turn white. Why? How can I stop this? Also, how do I promote  coralline algae? < Likely there is something chemically amiss in your system which is responsible for this overall die-off. Do you test your water for calcium, alkalinity? What sorts of supplements, if any do you administer? Tell me about your set-up... do you have a skimmer? What sorts, amounts of material is it accumulating? What about your lighting... gear, time on? Need to know more to tell more... Bob Fenner>

About a month ago I started a new 75 gal. tank and had a lot of problems  getting the tank to cycle. Your article on live rock convinced me to start  over using live rock which I have done. When I received my shipment of live  rock from Flying Fish I cleaned the rock as best I could and added it to the  tank along with a Samoa Sand base. I used 2 inch PVC to lift the rock up off  the sand to prevent any stagnant areas in the tank. It only took a couple of  weeks for the tank to complete the cycle. A couple of weeks ago the local  pet store suggested I add a power head just to move water across the rock.  When I put the new power head into the tank it created a cloud of garbage  that it blew off of the rocks. I passed the power head over the rock again  last week and again this week with the same results. This hasn't caused any  problems with my starter fish (2 clowns, 2 damsels and a yellow tang) but  I'm afraid it might cause problems with the fish I have just ordered. I  don't think this is caused from over feeding because all of the food is gone  within a minute or two. Is this normal or could the live rock be dying. The  Ammonia, Nitrate and Nitrite have been at 0 ppm for the last two weeks and  the pH is at 8.2. I am using a wet/dry filter along with a Berlin protein  skimmer and will be adding a 40w UV Sterilizer . Should I be concerned with  the live rock or let it be from here on out. Thank You, Steve Stockton < Steve, thanks for writing. I frequently remark to folks in the "content provision" (text and images) side of the ornamental aquatics interest my misgivings on the (apparent) necessity to provide "brief, concise" (read that as scant, fast, incomplete) "answers" or coverage of a topic... Your query is a case in point. Yes, the mulm/silt probably originated on/from the live rock, and for the most part it is more of an unsightly mess than a functional problem. I would either (in addition to your "blasting" cleaning practices) gingerly gravel-vacuum it out slowly but surely over the next few months, and/or utilize a "diatom" or mechanical filter to sieve most of it out (your LFS may rent Diatom (Vortex tm) filters, or you could look into a Magnum, Eheim, or Fluval outside canister filter arrangement with your/their gravel vac attachment on the intake side. Otherwise, don't be overly concerned with the mess. It too will pass. Bob Fenner>

Live rock Hi Bob. I am thinking of purchasing a box (45lb. approx.) of live rock and placing it in a 38ga. tank for final curing before placing in my new 55ga. This way any new fish introductions will not have to go through the problem of "new tank syndrome" I will place a couple of traps for the unwanteds. I will run the Remora Pro skimmer and a couple of powerheads for water movement plus a powerhead fitted with a large sponge that will be placed into the Q-tank. After a month or so of curing, I am going to dip each piece of live rock for a few moments in a high saline solution of about 1.030. I hear this is a good way to make any bristleworms and Mantis shrimp try to get to out. Does this method work and is it worth the bother?  <Not worth the effort... this small change or even greater for a few minutes is unlikely to cause the worms or mantis to move. The rest of the plan is very sound.> Is putting that much rock in a 38 a bad idea?  <Not at all... about the right amount functionally and esthetically.> I do not want the ammonia/nitrite spike to kill off any good critters. <I understand> I really want to buy cultured rock so I am doing my little part to save our Coral reefs. Every little bit helps.  <There is no harm in using the collected "live rock" from the world's oceans... Artificial rock causes much more environmental harm... think about this... the energy involved to light, heat the water, where the base material is made/collected... The "real thing" is back hauled for almost no cost in fuel (the plane would fly at about the same consumption otherwise), and it gives meaningful work to the people's involved in the whole process... and needed hard currency to those countries... There is no zero sum cost in this situation, cultured or collected, my friend.> Any good sources. Walt Smith? Ideas, referrals? Is mail-order next-day delivery o.k. for live rock? <Many good sources... look at the listings on the Net, a list of sources are stored as links on the www.WetWebMedia.com site's link pages> Since I am throwing questions at you, how about a good source of captive bred fish? As always, Thanks Zimmy <None sell directly to the end-user (too small a volume)... Look around locally first (you can use the Links, Net for this...), and have your LFS contact their suppliers, ask for C-Quest, ORA, TMC... there are many. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Bubbles, New Books Hi Bob Once again I have another question. I hope I don't bother you with all of my questions, but this hobby really intrigues me. Last week I added another 50lbs. of Fiji live sand to my tank. Since I added it I am seeing air bubbles escaping from the bottom. Is this just trapped air or is something going on under there that I should know about?  <More likely a combination of re-boosted photosynthesis and effects of decomposers/decomposition... as the rock "cures".> I have a few sand stars in my tank also. My last question is that, I herd that you have a couple new books coming out, is this true? <Yes... a continuing odyssey... of waiting on others, selling self-published works. My latest of the later you can see most everywhere on the www.WetWebMedia.com site> if so when? I have a book case full of reference books, these I treasure immensely. As for this hobby, I can't learn enough material fast enough. As always thank you very much! Take care. <Soon! Me too. Me neither! Chat with you soon. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Hi Again Bob Thanks for all th help you have given me in the past, it has proved very helpful and informative. I'll give you the tank spec again because doubtless you have hundreds of people giving you figures and stuff! :) <Yes, perhaps thousands> It is a 60 gallon FO tank with 3 fluorescent bulbs for lighting 1 Glo lux 1 actinic 1 Triton 1st question :)(is this sufficient for LR???) <Barely... I would switch out the first for another Triton at least> Now here is the dilemma. No hang on skimmers are able to fit onto my tank due the hood design.  <Really? A cut out modification can't be easily made to accommodate a hang on model?> Therefore I am interested in setting up a sump. Should I do this before adding live rock to the system or am I ok to add some Live Rock now? <Install the sump, skimmer first... too much likelihood of problems with curing/recurring the LR otherwise> I have seen the Live Rock and it has been fully Cured and I have been told by the LFS that I can add it without danger to the fish.  <Possibly, but there is always a chance, too much of one, that the rock will "re-cycle" and cause your system real troubles...> The fish store is quite a drive away and I have the opportunity to go tomorrow. Should I wait and set up a sump (my thoughts say I should do this) but if it is possible to add the Live Rock without a skimmer set up then I would like to do that and set the sump up soon after. I simply want what is best for the fish, if it means me driving out on another day I am willing do that. Thank You in Advance. Matt <Better to do the sump, skimmer first... Bob Fenner>

Cycling Process  Bob,  I had a quick question about starting a tank up. During the cycling process  should I be running my protein skimmer or should I wait until the tank cycles? <I'm definitely of the "run the skimmer at full blast" school (there are differing opinions... as usual!> Its a 55 gallon tank with a Biowheel 330, the skimmer is a Sea Clone venturi style that can be used for tanks between 50 and 100 gallons. Also, how many damsels (yellow tailed) is a good number to purchase for the cycling process?? <If you want to go this route... Live rock would be better to help get the whole system going... a small, odd number, 3 or 5>  Thanks for your help <Do take a read over the set-up, curing live rock pieces and FAQs on the site: www.wetwebmedia.com. Bob Fenner>

Fiji Rock  Bob, I found you thru the Walt Smith site, and hoping you can help me out :)  I am bumping up to a 75 gal. tank and am starting from ground  zero.....saltwater, 80 pounds of live sand, protein skimmer, mechanical  filter, heater, and just received my shipment of 150 pounds of Fiji rock on  Saturday....  I was told it was alright to place what I couldn't "fit" into the tank,(  due to the cloud of sand) into buckets filled with saltwater, until the  "cloud" cleared, and I could see to place it where I wanted it in the  tank......Have I been told wrong???  <This is likely a "border line" situation... "IF" the live rock is not too "dead", and "IF" you have adequate aeration, circulation, filtration/skimming... and a few more "IFS" you should be okay... You can imagine if you had tried this with half as much live rock you wouldn't have near the cloudiness, potential downside...> The smell isn't much different than  when I received it...Sure hope I haven't messed something up ?  It is Monday evening and will be placing the rest of it, about half,  tomorrow morning...  What beautiful purples !!! Just needing some reassuring that I am on the  right path, and what you would suggest my next step(s) be...??? <Monitoring water quality... at least ammonia, nitrite, pH... if they get too far out of whack, making massive water changes...>  I have had a 6 gal. (yes, you heard me right, six gallon) tank for the last  year, and started with live rock from locals.......Have soft and hard  corals, 2 Percula Clowns,  and tons more !!!!! and even had a Chocolate Chip Brittle Starfish (what a  beautiful creature he was), until the Bristle worms got him....they're  eating my rock like crazy and going after my turbo snails now......even  coming out with the lights on (although I heard, that was because their  food source is running low ???)......but have added an Arrow Crab------he's  catching them alright, but doesn't seem to be able to keep up. <He/it will...>  New to your site.......Suggestions, comments, HELP.......all would be  appreciated :)  Thanks for your valued time, <Thanks for writing, being part of it, Bob Fenner>

Asking your assistance with "curing" Live Rock Dear Sir, I have a 65 gallon Saltwater Aquarium with approx. 75lbs of LR (Tonga and Fiji) and I would like to add more. I have purchased about 25 lbs of live rock and was hoping you could suggest the best way for me to cure the rock. As of right now I have gone over each rock and removed any "suspicious" worms and placed the inspected pieces in a 5 gallon bucket filled with my aquarium water. Is there anything else I should absolutely do before adding the LR to my tank?  <My general procedure and notes re Live Rock curing can be found on our site: www.wetwebmedia.com> Do you suggest keeping the container dark? <No, I'm a big fan of curing the rock under "normal" aquarium conditions, including light cycles... There are other folks who have very different opinions.> How long should I wait to introduce the LR?  <Hmm, mainly the lack of ammonia and nitrite as an indicator...> Does it all have to go in at once or is it better to add a few pieces at a time? <Best to place all at once if your system/livestock can handle the likely "mini" re-cure that often occurs on such introduction... if in doubt, move only some and wait a week to add more...> Wow...lots of question for ya. Thank you for your time and attention towards this matter. Best Wishes, Brian <Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Live Rock I am in the process of setting my 125g reef tank back up (had a pipe spring a leak). I have about 100lbs of live rock that I had no choice but to put into 5 gal buckets filled with water from the tank. The rock has been in the buckets for about 6 weeks. Should I recure the rock and scrub the rock before I put it into the tank? >> If it's not too stinky... I'd give it a quick (freshwater) rinse/spray and place it in your tank... semi-re-cure it there... maybe place some new on top, along side it to restore more bio-diversity... No scrubbing necessary. Bob Fenner

Is it ok to cycle a new tank with uncured live rock or is the correct method to cure in an alternate location and then transport to the tank once the rock has cured? >> I generally cure live rock "in place"... about the only provisos I'd throw in are to rinse it off (freshwater is fine) if it is real stinky... and knock off (screwdriver works fine most of the time, or putty knife), any large "kelp" (brown algae mostly) and sponges... as they will die, make a mess... And if the system is REALLY Big, lots of rock... to introduce it, cure it in "portions". Like a third or half at a time, with a month, or whatever it takes in-between "batches"... And, for those who are really interested... to monitor (test kits) and augment calcium, alkalinity through the process.... And.... Bob Fenner

Need help I just set up a 65gal reef tank, I added all the live rock at one time. My ammonia is off the charts, should I be worried? I was told its normal and not to do anything. I was also told to use chemicals to bring it down. What should I do? It has almost been 2 weeks and the top peaces have turned brown, kinda like there burnt. I have 1 175w MH and 2 55w pc, did I burn it. Kyle >> <If off the scale, as in more than 1.0 ppm I would execute a large water change... Do you have your skimmer going? It should be... I wouldn't rely on chemicals to bring the ammonia down... The rock may be "burned" a bit by the lighting, being new, and the ammonia, but most all the life on it should come back, become repopulated by the rock underneath it. Keep your MH light off for now, the ammonia down through skimming, water changes, and all should be fine. Bob Fenner

Cycling Hello Bob, I have a 300g tank that I had to breakdown for about 2-3 weeks in order to replace our floors. I placed all the live rock and sand in a large Rubbermaid container w/ the original tank water and aerated it w/ a powerhead. I failed to place a heater so it's just been running @ room temp this whole time--are the rock and sand still live and can I just put them into the aquarium again or do I need to start the entire cycling process over again? I would appreciate a response... Thanks, Alan >> Only placing the rock, and time going by will tell... likely there will be a "mini" recycling event... If it were me, I'd place the rock and see... leaving out the other livestock for a few days to ascertain whether there is going to me measurable ammonia, nitrites...  If there was a big die off from the cold, waiting process... consider adding a box of new rock on top, to the side of your existing... and all will correct over the next months, year... Bob Fenner

Curing live rock I received my live rock from flying fish express, I am curing it in my 110 gallon tank. Today I have noticed a whitish web substance on some of the rock . Is this part of the curing process, or am I having a different type of problem???? Thanks again, Connie >> All part and parcel of curing... could be decomposition, evidence of Peanut, Spaghetti or other worm groups... This, and a whole bunch else, "will pass"... and mystify and amaze you. Bob Fenner

Curing live rock I have been curing my first shipment of Manono live rock for two weeks. When the rock was delivered it was very vibrant with shades of purple (predominantly), red and even green. However, the color is fading and there seems to be spots of white showing up. My tank is 75 degrees F, calcium is at 420, SG is at 1.021 and water movement is exceptional. I kept my lights off for two weeks to avoid an algae bloom and turned them on last night for the first time. Is this a cause for concern or just natural? If natural, will the rock ever get back the vibrant colors it had when it arrived? <Not too much a cause for concern... yet. I am of the lights-on school in the curing process... and would keep yours on a schedule from now on... adding herbivores if/as filamentous algae becomes a problem. The rock may well return to its present glory and better... do check and keep your Alkalinity up as well as biomineral content> Also, my second shipment of Manono rock arrived last night and I am curing it in a separate container with no protein skimmer. I am having trouble keeping the temperature above 70 degrees F. Should the temperature be cause for concern? Since I do not own a second protein skimmer should I do frequent (twice a week) water changes? <To an extent, yes... If it were me, and not knowing any more than what you've written here, I'd be inclined to put the new rock in with the old.... And do stick with the light photoperiod.... and cure/re-cure it all together... rather than possibly having problems with the temperature, separate curing process...> Thank you for your help, Rob >> You're welcome, Bob Fenner

Curing liverock. I have a question about curing liverock. It seems there are 2 schools of  thought. One person tells me to make daily water changes until ammonia  readings are zero. FFEXP .recommends no water changes until readings are  zero. Can you lend some insight to the correct way? Thanks >> Hmm, correct? Yikes... well, I'll tell you what I suggest, and then what we do (have a little coral farm here, and move a few tons of rock through it each year). I suggest running a skimmer (or two!) full blast, maybe using an efficient type of biological filter (like a fluidized bed or wet-dry), and if no fish are present, changing some of the water if the ammonia gets above a few ppm of ammonia... and for hobbyists to make those changes at more than 1.0ppm of ammonia... So, I guess I agree more with ffexpress stated policy... The other approach is unrealistic. Bob Fenner

Hello! I have two questions: Q1. I am thinking about getting some more live rock for my tank. I have a 92 gal currently with 45lbs of LR in it from FFExp. The tank has been set up for about a year. My question is how to do this? Should I get a 10 gal tank and set it up somehow to "cure" the pre-cured LR that is new? Should it have light? Should I attach a protein skimmer? What steps should I take? How will I know when it's ready to go to the main tank? I am also wondering how I should place it in...? I have a fairly nice arrangement right now and I would hate to rearrange all of the rocks for fear of stressing my fish and myself...I have a Foxface who is no longer shy when my arm goes in the aquarium... :) a pro and a con...I assume that it isn't wise to just put the new rocks on top of the old ones which would probably cause more die off.....I am open to suggestions. Q2. I currently have about 170w lighting on top of the cover glass which is an odd shape because the tank is a corner aquarium. I have a (recently purchased from FFExp) 24"L x 9 1/2"W compact flours. with reflector and 55w actinic and 55w white? (I think) bulbs, and a standard flours. light with reflector 36"L x 5 1/2"W with 2- 30w bulbs in it - 1 50/50 and 1 actinic...I would like to upgrade the lighting a little farther by replacing the standard lights because I want to grow Halimeda and hopefully a few other plants that my Foxface won't munch on. The lights barely fit on the aquarium cover glass now (because of the odd shape). The part where I can put the lights is shaped like a (hexagon) with a rectangle that measures 36"L x 6 1/2"W and then shaping into the corner, a trapezoid shape that has parallel sides measuring 36"L and about 18"L , the unparallel sides are 14 1/2" long each...it is hard to explain - sorry! :( Right now the 36"strip light is in the front and the 24" strip (CF) is in the back --there are little triangles of bare glass in the back where some light invariably escapes. I don't think they make CF that will fit this arrangement perfectly...that would be very hard to do...but do you know of any "skinny" ones that are 36" long that could replace my standard flours.?? What a dilemma huh?! It can't be more than 5 1/2"wide since I am pushing it now with the crowded conditions on top....and it has to have enough wattage to make it worth it...ugh! If you have any suggestions of alternate routes to lighting here I will take them! I hope you can get the idea of my space constraints....I would be willing to start over if necessary...I could always transfer the lights I have to a "regular" rectangular aquarium that I have been meaning to set up for a while now with only plants in it....I am sure I will be writing to ask you questions on that topic next...hint hint... :) You are a wonderful resource and we are so glad to have you "available for questioning" since our area doesn't have a plethora of knowledgeable marine fish keepers. Sorry to be so long winded. Thank you...I look forward to your response. -- :) Ruth >> The new live rock should indeed be cured/recured "elsewhere"... IMO with a light, and definitely with a protein skimmer... The steps to completion will vary... but do "rinse off" (freshwater will do) the incoming rock, knock off any large "kelp" macroalgae, sponges...these will just pollute the water, cause the whole process to be prolonged. Some folks utilize high salt concentrations, Kalkwasser, other materials to reduce the likelihood of introducing "worms", mantis shrimps... I don't. Watch at least your ammonia, nitrites, and execute large water changes if/when they become dangerously high.... more than a ppm... The new rock has got to go "somewhere"... so either the present has to be taken out, moved... or the new placed to the sides, on top of it... all are reasonable. Hmm, regarding the lighting... I think I understand the space limitation... and yes, I would retrofit more CF lighting into the gap... such kits are offered by many people, including ffexpress... Are you handy with tools? Have a drill motor and bits? I would install it yourself...  Bob Fenner

Live Rock Curing in a New Tank Hi Bob, I think you are providing a great service by sharing your vast knowledge so that us wannabe's can share in this wonderful hobby that to us is new and extremely exciting and addicting. Thank You. Now to my question, I have a 60 gal hex, I put live sand from ffexpress (didn't appear to have any life in it but I couldn't really tell) on top of a plenum that has about 3" of substrate. I then bought some Manano (35 lbs very beautiful) and Marshall Is and Fiji, (45 lbs combined, Marshall Is had some fuzzy algae on it which I probably should have scrubbed off but didn't), from ffexpress the newspaper was still wet but it did stink a bit. I did the high SG dip and removed some of the dead stuff, not a lot though because I wanted to maximize the possibility of adopting life forms that came with. I didn't see any mantis shrimp or bristle worms. I placed the rock how I felt it would look nice, this was about 4 days ago. The coralline algae looked pretty good, I left the lights on because of advice from another expert who said it would promote growth, I didn't get any bad algae growth at all, skimmer is on constantly. Last night I turned the lights off when I went to bed and turned them on when I went to work in the AM. Today I came home and can see little brownish dots on the rocks where it looks like the coralline algae had died ( I guess it was dead, it didn't have any color in this area when I got it. The rock was shaped real nice so I put it on top closest to the light) the other rocks still have a lot of purplish red on them though it might be fading a little. Is there anything I can do to prevent the death of any more coralline algae or maybe promote growth. What are "coralline seed pieces" they have at ffexpress? I love the look of the coralline algae, I would be really happy if I had it all over every rock. Should I be doing something different right now.  Here are my water test results: Alk 2.8  Ph 8.2 Ammonia .088 Nitrite above 1 ppm Nitrate above 100 ppm Calcium 350 ppm Phosphate 1.0 ppm Thank You ever so much for any advice you can give.  Rob >> Thank you for writing/being an active part of this forum. A few things to mention then on to your specific question: Live sand does generally look like it doesn't have much (to the naked eye) in/on it... most of the life there is tiny... sometimes called interstitial... as in "between the grains"... so you should' t see much on arrival. The newspaper et al. shipping materials and the live rock itself should be a little "stinky" on arrival... more like a mix of fresh earth and sea-air... no worries there. Now, about the apparent coralline die-off... This is typical as well, and not too much to be concerned about at this point. Your alkalinity (and to a smaller extent calcium) needs boosting... to twice plus what it is currently, and the Ca++ to 450 or so... and your nitrates lowered (don't worry too much about this last... but do "somethings" that we'll refer to in later communiqu? if they remain above 20 ppm in a couple of weeks)... Do you utilize chemical boosters, i.e. additives to increase alkalinity, biomineral concentration? You should step up their use. Don't know what ffexpress is selling as "starter coralline" material... probably just pieces of encrusting red algae covered rock-substrate from the wild... you don't need this material... you already have your starter... Bob Fenner, who is going back to Fiji and going to really goose his friends into making the "rock acclimation, and boosting" products onto production this time...

Live rock purchase we are purchasing two separate quantities of live rock (cost 139 plus shipping) from your store. we have 2 tanks. a 65 and 55 gallon tank with approx 20 or so pounds of live rock already in place. Plus the 65 has 3 fish (tang, angel, damsel) and the 55 has approx 8 fish(2 angels, tang, damsels, clowns). When we receive the shipment on Wednesday can we put it the tank immediately? thanks. freed. >> IMO, no... I would cure the rock to my satisfaction elsewhere... making sure the bulk of the "muck" and any undesirable life (dying macro-algae, sponges... worms, shrimps...) were off it... and especially that the dying parts of the new live rock will not cause an ammonia/nitrite poisoning of your existing systems... Sorry to perhaps seem overly cautious... the rock from ffexpress is exemplary... but no one can tell how it will actually arrive to the "end user"... and I shy on the conservative side when dealing with systems that are already up and running. Bob Fenner

Live Rock cycling What is the "normal" stage of things when adding live rock to an already established tank? I added 20lbs of your Manono Island uncured live rock to my 50 gallon tank. My fish (damsels and clownfish) are stressed but otherwise fine. After about 8 hours the water is very yellow and milky/cloudy and smells awful! Is this normal. My ammonia is at 0, nitrite 2ppm, nitrate 80ppm (was high before the rock). Is this the normal cycle? When can I expect the water to return to normal? does FFX sell any additives to speed up the cycle? thanks, Dan >> Like the way you state, "normal"... There is (no joking) a huge amount of variability in the initial quality, make-up, treatment and "curing" of live rock "products"... And unless you can be absolutely sure... like buying the same listed item from the same supplier (as in from the source), I would always approach LR as if it were TROUBLE. By and large what this comes down to is curing the rock yourself... best, outside a main/display system... with lots of skimming, water movement... in my opinion with regular lighting... maybe with some purposeful predators to take out bristleworms, Aiptasia, mantis et al undesirable shrimps...  A few, hopefully pertinent notes for your situation: Woulda, coulda, shoulda re the above... we are where we are now. It would have been better to cure the rock elsewhere, avoid a potential crash... Do keep an eye on your water... if ammonia, nitrite spike, dump a good part of it... It should more or less "cycle" out of the most dangerous time frame in a few days to weeks... Don't know if ffexpress sells materials to speed up the curing process... am helping friends to develop these and some other related products... But am sure they do sell some of the calcium and alkalinity products (like by SeaChem, Kent Marine)... These are very worthwhile to use during and after the "curing" process. Really, unless you have the facilities to move and treat the rock elsewhere, just keep an eye on your water quality, plenty of pre-mixed seawater on hand, and keep dumping/cleaning your skimmer... Bob (been there, no fun) Fenner 

A 911 Caller Hi Bob, I wanted to thank you for your prompt response to my previous questions and  ask you about a new problem I have encountered.  The marine tank is 60 gal., equipped with W/D, Eheim canister, and a 24"  protein skimmer. Suddenly, the last inhabitants, a yellow tang, two damsels  and a bicolor angel, perished about a week ago. I checked ammonia, nitrite,  nitrate, pH, and alkalinity (I did not check the salinity). They all checked  normal. With only a red hermit crab in the tank, it took me five days to  restock the tank with some fish. Another yellow tang, a flame angel, and two  blue damsels were added to the tank yesterday. This morning, I checked the  salinity and found it to be 1.018, low compared to 1.023. I normalized the  salinity, and checked for ammonia. Whaw! It was 1.5ppm. I then added  Ammo-Lock to arrest the problem temporarily. Next, I did a 30% water change,  and skimmed off debris from the sand bed. The fish don't seem active and the  tang sometimes swims in twitchy movements, like having some sort of skin  irritation. Breathing seems slightly elevated in the Tang and the Flame  Angel doesn't roam around in the tank. Did I add the livestock too fast in the tank? Or, was five days without  fish too long - - could this have starved the nitrifying bacteria? Did my  previous fish die due to low salinity? How can I bring the ammonia down with  the fish in the tank? What do you think of Fritzyme bottled nitrifying  bacteria? Can you help me with this emergency? Thanks in advance for your speedy response Ben, CA >> Wowzah... trouble. First off, I don't know what caused the first die-off. Of the data you list and common "toxic situations" none pop up... But the second set of circumstances, the ammonia jump... lead me to wonder if "something" is dying (like a part of your live rock), causing a sudden ammonia influx... that might have killed the first group... and been so transient that you didn't catch it in your tests. The low specific gravity probably has nothing to do with the losses... directly... though it might have contributed/still be contributing to the instability of the establishment, catch up of your nitrifying microbes... The five days waiting has nothing to do with the problem either... it would have been better to wait 25 days... Be all this as it is, at this point, a few things... Don't rely on any commercial product to "tie-up" or convert the ammonia in your system... If you have another tank to move your fishes to, do so... otherwise, if the ammonia approaches 1.0ppm do a massive water change (25+%)... don't feed them... Until your tank really cycles (it hasn't obviously).  And most importantly, take your time here... patience will reward you...  Bob Fenner

Quarantine and treatment - live rock/sand Bob,  Are there any steps that can be taken when introducing live rock/sand to a  new aquarium to minimize the chance of introducing parasites/pests/disease?  For instance, should the rock/sand be quarantined in the new aquarium before  adding fish/corals - if so, for how long.  Also, are there dips/treatments that should be used on the rock/sand before  adding other livestock? If so, could you describe the type/duration of  treatment? Thanks! >> Good questions... presently, about the best a person can do to optimize their "index of usability" of live rock and sand is as you suggest: quarantine it a good long time... to reduce the abundance, health of unfavorable (and not) parts... like bristle worms, alpheid shrimps, Aiptasia anemones... But coming very soon, I can imagine rock/sand that has been isolated with predators that specifically eat undesirables, even chemical means of eradicating them... in the meanwhile a couple of months storage before use... maybe with some of the known predators... Bob Fenner

I have a 125g (fish only) tank, trickle filter (lg tide pool), 2 power heads. I cycled my tank for what seems like forever - using 10 damsels. I also added "cycle" during this process to help things along. Two months later the water indicated "0" ammonia and "0" nitrate/nitrite. A LFS tested the water and assured me I was ready to add fish. I still have 8 Damsels so I added 1 (4") Majestic Angel. He is doing great and 7 days later I added 1 (3") Blue Tang and 1 (3") Threadfin Butterflyfish. The day after I added the last 2 fish I tested the water and the nitrites and ammonia had risen slightly. Is this normal ~ I'm a little nervous that I might be rushing things? I do regular water changes of 10% to 15%. All the fish seem to be doing well so far. I love your website! Stumbled on to it at 11PM and didn't sign off until 3 AM! Thanks, Scott >> Yeeikes, no the "sudden" appearance (or reappearance of aspects of nutrient cycling intermediaries... ammonia, nitrite) is cause for concern. Either your system didn't really cycle in the first place and/or there has been a collapse of the cycling micro-organisms. In either case, I would do the following: stop feeding (yes, none) till you see that these indicators are back down to zero ppm, and do keep testing for them, and IMO, extend your light period (this will spur establishment of cycling and goose some lowly forms of algae into action... and lastly, please do consider placing some live rock in your system. This will do a whole bunch of good things, including instantly adding the real microbes you want. Commercial preparations are stop-gap assemblages...Bob Fenner

Howdy Bob, I was wondering if you might answer a question for me. I recently purchased a box of pre-cured live rock from ffexpress. I was following their recommendation of re-curing the rock, so I had it in a plastic garbage can with an airstone, a heater, and a powerhead. I went away for a weekend, and when I came back, I found that the heater had stopped working, and that the temp. in the can was somewhere in the 65-70 range. The pieces of rock that were in the can had a slight sulfur odor, and appeared somewhat grey in comparison to the pieces I'd already placed in my tank. Do you think that there's anything still live about this rock, or did the depressed temperature kill all of the stuff on it? I've put a few pieces into my tank over the past week, and it hasn't changed my water chemistry. Thanks a lot, Tracy >> Hmmm, gosh, this can be a sticky query/answer... Well, the few days of lowered temperature wouldn't necessarily disqualify my using the rock, nor kill off everything... but I would be careful (as in test the water in the curing system, making sure it was not showing evidence of mass decomposition... high ammonia, followed by high, high, high nitrates...)... but, you'll probably be okay. Bob Fenner

Curing LR I would love your input on a method of curing LR; << Use an aquarium with the regular equipment. Employ a fluidized bed, (that has matured in another aquarium) Employ a power filter for mechanical filtration, cleaning it several times a day. Power heads. (of course) Good skimmer. Live sand>> I would like to try this as I want fresh live rock, and my hopes are to preserve as much life as possible. I figure without a photo-period too much die off would occur. (referring to using a garbage can) Using an aquarium, with lights, adjusted accordingly, die off would not be so high would it? Using an aged fluidized bed would control ammonia and nitrites, nitrates being dealt with through water changes. Your thoughts and ideas are greatly appreciated! Chris >> Chris, you da man! Yes, this set-up should optimize retention of the maximum number of species and biomass on your incoming live rock. About the only two things I would add are to be very clear with your supplier that you want the absolute freshest product they can get you (a whole bunch of "collectors" store the stuff for days to weeks... and it's bunk by the time it's even just shipped), and do make periodic water changes (maybe 25-50%) every week during the process. Good luck, and keep us informed. Bob Fenner

rock cycle lighting Bob, A question about lighting during cycling of a new tank. I have a 55 gallon acrylic show tank (48"w x 20"h x 13"f-t-b). It has a hood with two 36" reflector fluorescents (30 w), one full spectrum and one actinic. I mixed up 50 gallons of Coralife seawater and let it sit for a week. During this week I hooked up the heater and airstone, an Eheim canister filter (2213), and a SeaClone protein skimmer. I then took S.G., pH, Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, Hardness, and Phosphate reference readings. Today (one week later) I added 50 pounds of FFExpress' precured "Pago" live rock. I plan to let the "rock" cycle for two to four weeks (waiting for Ammonia, etc., drop). My question is; how long, if any, should I have the lights on each day during this period? Do the "organisms" in and on the live rock need the light? Would lack of light "kill" the live rock? Since there are no fish, shrimp, crabs, or snails in the tank - there is nothing to fight the dreaded ALGAE in all of its varieties. Many Thanks, Bob >> Great, clear communication... even I (think) understand it. If it were me, I'd leave the lights on about twelve hours a day... given the proviso that you "knock off", otherwise remove the bulk of attached "kelp" (phaeophytes... brown algae) and large sponges (these will be dead, dying anyway and causing a mess, curtailing cycling). For rock that doesn't have much of any apparent non-coralline algae I wouldn't sweat lighting at all (this last bit to cover the browsers, readers that will come later, going "but my rock..."). Do keep your eye on the cycling parameters you can measure, be ready to effect large (as big as you can) water changes when readings get way out of hand... as in on the brink of killing everything on the rock... (of course a nomogram I can't, shouldn't reproduce here, involving at least the relationships between pH, ammonia, temperature, dissolved oxygen) and toxicity... I think/hope/trust you know what I'm getting at. And run that protein skimmer full blast! Bob Fenner

Rock cycle lighting >on the brink of killing everything on the rock... (of course a nomogram I >can't, shouldn't reproduce here, involving at least the relationships between >pH, ammonia, temperature, dissolved oxygen) and toxicity... I >think/hope/trust you know what I'm getting at. And run that protein skimmer >full blast! >Bob Fenner Bob, The nomogram you "can't, shouldn't reproduce here" I'm not familiar with, could you point me to it? Many Thanks, Bob >> Hmmm, this is a three dimensional graphing display of three (or more) variables and the relationships between them. In our example, as ammonia, temperature increase and DO decrease the toxicity of Ammonia (ionized going to non ionized) increases... dramatically. I can fax you a copy of this relationship, but don't "own" the rights to post the graph I have... here. Bob Fenner who says send me your fax number if you'd like a copy. << I have a 90 gallon fish only tank. I would like to add some live rock to the tank. There is none in the tank presently. I have only used Tufa rock. Will this present any problems to my fish? How would I introduce it into the tank? >> Adding, having the Live Rock is a very good idea, but you are right to be concerned re the process of introducing it to an established system. Generally, it is best to place the LR first, curing it in place for a good period of time (often months) ahead of other livestock placement... For your circumstances, IF you cannot cure the LR yourself, procure it thoroughly cured, or have someone help you with same (in a separate system, vigorously skimmed, set-up to effect massive water changes...), I would go the "safe" route of bringing it in in small amounts (10-20 pounds at a time) every few weeks, with the following stipulations: Still do rinse and soak the new rock in prepared seawater ahead of use. A ten gallon tank (or bigger) will do for this purpose, with an established sponge or box filter or two for a day; ahead of placing the new LR in you 90. Unless the LR contains a great deal of putrefying material, this should be sufficient preparation. Please see the site wetwebmedia.com or the October issue of FAMA magazine for an article detailing more on (at least my opinions) LR usage. Bob Fenner

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