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More FAQs about Curing Live Rock 3

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 4, Curing LR 5, Curing LR 6, Curing LR 7, Curing LR 8, Ammonia in/and Marine Systems, Live Rock in General, LR Life Identification, Live Rock Selection, Shipping/Moving, Curing Live Rock, Placement, Lighting, Water QualityLive Rock Studies in Fiji Collaboration & Charts, Sumps, RefugiumsFaux Rock,

Most "curing" routines wipe out macrophytes. Galaxaura sp.

Is my Tank There Yet?  2/18/03 Hey folks,<Hey Kent!  Your stuck w/ Phil again!!> Is this sound?:<Let's see...> Fill the 135 with RO/DI saltwater Hook up the Calc Reactor to the sump of CY294 Get the system up and filtering Start the lighting timers<Maybe not quite yet...> THEN PUT THE ENTIRE 150 Lbs OF PRE CURED&CLEANED ROCK IN THE TANK AT ONCE TO CYCLE?<IMO, lights shouldn't be on during LR cycle's.  Too much algae and other bad stuff could/will grow.>   I'd hate to keep driving 1.5 hours each way to get more rock unless I have to.<I know what ya mean...  best LFS by me is an hour each way in light traffic and good weather!> I think I remember seeing one of you suggest leaving the lights on in a rock cycling tank.<We all have different things to say about curing. LOL..> Thanks again<No problem... Have fun w/ the new tank!  Phil>

Rock introduction- curing and stocking 2/16/03 Hey guys, Another question I have that has only recently cropped up.  I have recently read in only ONE article that live rock should be introduced slowly to a new un-cycled tank.   <I strongly disagree... this bleeds nutrients in over time and contributes to nuisance algae problems> This would mean that with a 135 gallon tank I supposed to buy a little rock, let it cycle, then add some more...let that equalize, then add more.  This idea of adding the rock a little at a time will kill a pocketbook with excess shipping charges. <Insane> The article went on to say it would be wise to wait anywhere from 3 months to a year to build up the rock in a tank to the recommended level and THEN start adding animals.  What the heck is THAT all about??? <I agree that animals should not be added until most all rock has been added. But the rock could/should be cured for 4 weeks and then added at once after a big water change. Stocking to commence right afterwards> Can I just get the *&^%$ 160 lbs of live rock and put it into a new tank (with a wet/dry rated 4 500gal) and let the thing cycle or not? <Sort of... you could not/should not cure live rock with sand in the display tank for fear of imparting a pest or predator that you cannot remove from the sand easily (or worse... breeds there). Cure rock in a bare QT for 4 weeks and then roll with it> U have no idea how pi**ed I got when I read that article.  Waiting an entire year to finish adding the rock before adding the animals. CRIMINY!!!! <Dude... if that's all it takes to get your blood pressure up... one article in twenty... you need to relax. Find a stress release: how about a peaceful aquarium <G>. Anthony>

Live Rock and Cycling 29 gal eclipse Red Sea Berlin Airlift 90 Temp: 78-80 (stable, but depends on which of three thermometers you are looking at - the glass one inside toward the top reads 80) <Put them all in ice water for awhile and see which is at 32, if they go that low> Finally got my live rock, and my first salt tank is up and running!  Woooo! 26 pounds of Fiji.  My question is:  I stupidly assumed the rock was cured (it was cleaned up - not nasty looking), but it was not.   <All rock will see some die-off during shipping, no worries> It was also in water that is significantly colder than my tank.  I rinsed the rock and placed it in the tank, and started the skimmer.  My ammonia (predictably) is at 1-1.5ppm, but my ph is fine at about 8.2.  Should I be concerned? I placed it in the tank on Friday evening.  I cooked and aerated my water change water in the Rubbermaid container, per your instructions, did a 4-gallon water change on Tuesday evening, using the opportunity to suck some of the flotsam from the substrate (pink Fiji sand). Will I kill the rock with ammonia levels this high?  I know you poo poo the addition of store-bought bacteria, but might it help?  Or should I just relax and have a beer? <Continue as you have. I would up the water changes to every other day (25% would not hurt at this time) and spend the bacteria money on a six-pack. Klink> I also attached (sorry about the file size) is something that I cannot identify from the live rock.  Can you identify?  Should I scrape it off, or see if it lives? <Dunno, kinda hard for me to tell from the pic. I would guess a sponge/fungus, I would leave it, unless it appears to be dieing. Then remove dead material, leave the live.> Also, I have not seen hide nor hair of any animal life as of yet.  I think I may have seen something (looks like an isopod, according to your site). Unfortunately, the uncooperative little bastard did not stick around long enough to compare him to a picture.  Is there some time frame when I may expect to see more life?  Or have I killed everything with my ammonia levels?  I'd pull my hair out from the stress, if I had any. <tee hee, know the feeling. I would say you are experiencing normal cycle process. You will be astonished how much stuff comes back. I have had some rock for nearly a year and new stuff pops up occasionally, especially when I got rid of the peppermint shrimp. As far as the pods and such, you could 'reseed' with a cup or two from an established tank after the ammonia/nitrite go to 0> Just received my TCMA  This is a helluva book!  Thanks! <Mine is dog-eared from all the use, will pass along to Bob. Keep in touch and be patient. Don> JPM

Live rock and beer Hey there beer swilling aficionados!! <Deeyarr, is it 5:00 yet? cold rainy weather, I think tonight calls for some Guinness, or maybe Bass, oooh maybe both Black and Tan.  Yeah that's it.  Oh wait, you wanted to talk about live rock.> Does live rock need to be lighted to perform its duties? <No, but you will have more life with lights which will help the rock perform its duties.> I am constructing a softy coral prop tank and want to use my live rock in an unlit remote sump, good idea or should I have rock on same light cycle as rest of tank? < If you reverse the light cycle you can keep your ph from swinging so much at night.> thanks so much in advance <Not a problem, also check out our FAQs on Live rock, they are huge, tons of info.-Gage>

Waiting For The Creatures! Newbie Boy again. To briefly recap: 29 gal eclipse Red Sea Berlin Airlift 90 Temp: 78-80 (stable, but depends on which of three thermometers you are looking at - the glass one inside toward the top reads 80) <Just make sure that they are all showing stable temps> Finally got my live rock - it's a beaut, and my first salt tank is up and running!  Woohoo! <Cool! You're on your way!!> 26 pounds of Fiji.  My question is:  I stupidly assumed the rock was cured (it was cleaned up - not nasty looking), but it was not. It was also in water that is significantly colder than my tank.  I rinsed the rock and placed it in the tank, and started the skimmer.  My ammonia (predictably) is at 1-1.5ppm, but my ph is fine at about 8.2.  Should I be concerned? <Well, the ammonia reading is a byproduct of all the die off from the uncured rock...This is a normal part of the "curing/cycling" process in the aquarium. Monitor ammonia and nitrite levels until they once again are undetectable. Make sure that skimmer is pulling out loads of yucky stuff...> I placed it in the tank on Friday evening.  I am 'cooking' my water change water in the Rubbermaid container, per your instructions, and should be hot 'n' ready tomorrow.  My plan on Tuesday evening was to do a 2 gallon water change, using the opportunity to suck some of the flotsam from the substrate (pink Fiji sand). Will I kill the rock with ammonia levels this high?  I know you poo poo the addition of store-bought bacteria, but might it help? <Well, you should probably do some initial water changes to get the major particulate matter and pollutants out...but the tank will still have to cycle. At this point, I'd let nature take it's course after your initial water changes. Let things go for a while, monitoring the ammonia and nitrite regularly along the way...be patient...I'd avoid the bacteria cultures at this point...Some die off will occur on the rock, but in time, a tremendous amount of new life will arise...Just stay the course here!> Or should I just relax and have a homebrew (sorry - wrong hobby) <Grab a brew for yourself, and one for me, while you're at it!> I also attached (sorry about the file size) is something that I cannot identify from the live rock.  Can you identify?  Should I scrape it off, or see if it lives? <Well, it looks to me to be some form of Pavona, a stony coral (feel free to correct fish-boy if necessary, Anthony!), but I cannot be 100 percent certain from the picture. It may very well die off in the curing process, if it isn't already. See what happens> Also, I have not seen hide nor hair of any animal life as of yet.  I think I may have seen something (looks like an isopod, according to your site). <Give it time. Once things settle down a bit, you'll be stoked to see all of the neat little things that start coming out of the rock, like feather dusters, various worms, etc. It's awesome to watch and it sure beats mowing the lawn, cleaning the bathrooms, or other useless stuff like that :) . > Unfortunately, the uncooperative little bastard did not stick around to compare him to a picture.  Is there some time frame when I may see something?  Or have I killed everything with my ammonia levels?  I'd pull my hair out from the stress, if I had any. <Just give it a little time...If you are patient- they (the creatures) will come!> Thank you again for your infinite patience.  (Oh yes - my TCMA hardcover arrives tomorrow, according to UPS.  Hot damn!) JPM <You're gonna love that book- and you'll be glad you bought the hardcover...I basically destroyed my soft cover copy 'cause I refer to it so often! Enjoy the evolution of your reef! Feel free to contact us again any time! Regards, Scott F>

- It's EXACTLY like starting over..... - <I'm sorry to hear that.> Hello again, once again I seek knowledgeable advice.... all my fish have died, <I am sorry to hear of your loss.> the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels are all off the charts, and like you suggested I added live rock to my tank.  I was a little curious when I asked at the store why one tank of live rock was so cheap and I was told it was actually "dead" live rock, it had lots of bacteria but no creatures or coral living on it.  They called it "base rock".  Is this of benefit to my tank in it's present condition or do I require the type with creatures etc? <Typically, base rock just isn't as pretty... the bacteria needed is still there, and probably some other beneficial stuff, but some people like lots of coralline algae and other fauna - I say do what your wallet tells you to do. If you want, spend the majority of your money on the base rock and a small amount on a piece or two of premium rock - the one will seed the other and you'll have a tank of nice rock.> What might I do to reduce the time it will take to complete the cycle process, and how should I reduce the dangerous nitrate level without dumping my whole 65 gallons? <I would just let it brew... be patient.> How do I know if the condition of my tank will kill my new live rock? <It will only slightly, but I'd go ahead an dump the stuff in.> I so want to get it right this time, my mistakes have been very costly.  I don't want to give up on my favourite hobby over cost, but this is the second time I've lost my entire tank....please help... <Well, just to reiterate, be patient - this is the first and most important lesson to learn. Is much like a Zen exercise... then, do invest in a quarantine tank so that you can 'harden' the fish you plan to put in the main tank before you put them there. In the meanwhile, learn to enjoy the little things... much interesting life will sprout from your live rock.> Once again, I look forward to your advice, Angela <Cheers, J -- >

Rockin encore! - 2/10/03 Crew Team - <Hello. Paul at your service> I have 55 gallon tank with approximately 80 pound of cured rock. <Nice>  I would like to know if I can add an additional 50 pounds more of live rock.<Sure. More wouldn't hurt.....but I am curious as to why? Being that you seem to have filled out the anecdotal requirements for biological filtration/denitrification. I would check the various FAQs for procedures regarding the addition of live rock into an existing tank. Start your check here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm The live rock can be added a bit at a time (10-20 pounds at a throw let's say), and I would definitely request the "fully cured" types if you didn't want to undergo the trouble of curing it yourself...If indeed you want to add a great quantity (anything more than 30lbs) I would order a box of uncured (better price, usually) and would ensure that the rock was more thoroughly cured yourself....by curing it in another system... Setting up a tank with a skimmer, monitoring ammonia, nitrite for a month or so, if possible. Again the above link will have many possibilities for low cost curing systems in the event you don't have an extra tank.> Since the tank has been up and running for three years. Please advise. Thank you. Regards, Cecilia   <Again, be careful about adding too much rock that is not thoroughly "cured" into your tank. I might even quarantine "fully cured" rock if it were me. Just to be sure I wasn't adding any pests or undesirables. =) Thanks for the question. Pablo>

Live Rock curing Is it better to cure some extra rock I am buying in a new Rubbermaid container or in an extra tank I have lying around? Does it even matter. <Whatever is easier to use, clean> Rubbermaid would have all the needed equip. (yes even a skimmer!) but it would be easier on me to do it in a tank, for equip reasons. Would the tank maybe work even better? Thanks <If the tank is new (as in starting with no life in it otherwise, I like to cure the LR in place there... much easier than having to move it later. Bob Fenner>

Re: Curing Live Rock Hi guys, Ronni here with more goofy questions on my marine tank. I swear, I will get the hang of this eventually! I just yesterday received an order of live rock from FFExpress. It's 45 lb of the aquacultured Fiji from Walt Smith. My tank is already established so I'm curing it in a large trash can along with some limestone that I also want to add to my salt tank. I placed all of the rock in the can almost exactly 24 hours ago and I just tested the water. My nitrites are at or above 5ppm and my ammonia is so high I couldn't even get a reading (the test turned blue instead of yellow or green!). The cycling information sheet that was sent with the rock said not to do water changes while it's cycling but I wanted to double check this as I thought water changes were a good thing and would speed up the process. <Yes. Agree with you...> I have one powerhead in there and a heater keeping the temp at 78. I think I have another powerhead lying around here somewhere, if so, should I add it too? <Yes> The lighting is just hi intensity fluorescents that light the storage room it's in for about 8 hours daily. I'd like to get this stuff cycled and into my tank as soon as possible but want to make sure it's fully cycled so I don't cause any problems in my main system. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated. :o) Ronni <Please read through here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm and the curing LR FAQs files (linked, in blue, at top) beyond. Bob Fenner>

Question re: Live Rock/Cycling Process Hello Bob, <Gage here this evening, but you can call me bob if you want to.> I have read your site thoroughly regarding Live Rock but am a bit overwhelmed by the information and find myself still needing some specific guidance from you. I have just filled my brand new tank w/saltwater (deionized filtered freshwater), added 36 lbs of premium live rock from Fiji (supposedly cured) and have started the cycling process. NO FISH YET <sounds good.  The salt water was mixed in a separate container right.>     Tank Info:  I have a 55 gallon display tank with a wet/dry filter w/bioballs, an Ocean Clear pressure mechanical filter, a protein skimmer, a U/V sterilizer and VHO fluorescent lighting (one white and one actinic). <rockin, is the white one full spectrum?  Is this going to be a reef?> 1. My live rock (that was purple and pink under the lights in the store) is still that way in my tank but some of it is whitish with some white smoke like plumes coming from the bottom of one corner and web like white patches forming on rock. I am worried that the rock is not fully cured after all and that it is dying. <The change from the dealers tank to yours, as well as the change in lighting can cause some die off, no worries.> Question:  Can I "cure" my live rock in my display tank (as I have strong circulation, stable heating and lighting) and cycle the tank at the same time without completely killing my expensive live rock ???? <Yup, if the rock is not fully cured you will experience some die off, but the rock will become more lively over time.> If yes, what must I do to the water etc to insure that my live rock survives, eventually gets its colors back and cycle the tank ??? Also ,Do I turn on my protein skimmer and U/V sterilizer now or after it is cycled ?? <Turn every thing on, this would be a great time to get your skimmer fine tuned to pull out as much gunk as possible.  Test your water for Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nitrate, if any get too high change some water.  Best Regards, Gage>     Thanks Bob, signed anxious new aquarist

Re: do I need an protein skimmer If I add a lot of live rock to a 30 gallon tank an have two external filters (1 canister) (tetra pro)<do I have to get a protein skimmer ??? <Yes. Please read through WetWebMedia.com re skimmers, live rock curing. Bob Fenner> thanks

Live Rock Hello.  I am in the process of setting up a 265 gallon tank (not full blown reef yet, but I will be adding inverts).  I will be adding about 225lbs of live rock to start.  Is it OK to add all that rock at once?  I have a EuroReef CS 12 Skimmer which processes around 900 gph.  I also bought about 100 lbs. of lace rock, because the guy at the LFS said it was a good base rock for my system.  I have since heard some questionable things about lace rock, and don't want to sabotage myself right off the bat.  What are the potential risks associated with lace rock, and is there any way to "test" it?  If not lace rock, is there an appropriate rock to use aside from the obvious calciferous "dead" live rock?  Second, I will be adding the live rock first into the tank, and letting it cycle before I even think of adding anything else.  My question is, what are the pros and cons to using uncured "raw" rock as the first thing in the tank.  Do you get more kinds of life that way, both good and bad?  Does Walt Smith offer this type of "raw" rock? Thanks much, this site is fabulous, I am learning tons here. -Dave <Hey Dave, I would leave the lace rock out, IMO have enough things to worry about besides harmful minerals leaching into my tank.  If you are going add the live rock first, throw it all in at once and get the curing/cycling out of the way.  Do not add anything else until the tank is cycled and your water is testing well.  There may be more life on the uncured rock, but a lot of it will die off in the curing process.  Take a read over the links below, then decide. -Gage http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm  >

Learning As He Goes! Hi again.  Thanks for the earlier response.  You sent me back to the website for another 4-5 hours of reading.... <Part of the fun, huh?> I wasn't planning on putting live rock in the tank until it was cycled and stable ( I'm tip-toeing my way into this).  I was concerned that adding the LR prior to the tank being completely cycled would cause some die-off on the rock.  I also expect that in a fish-only system as I am planning, not much would survive on the LR anyway.  Am I mistaken? <Well, no- and yes- depending on what your fish population is! I'd still get the live rock in from the start, for both its nutrient processing ("filtering") capabilities and bacterial "jump start" I have 40 lbs of packaged sand that claims to have bacteria cultures in it but I wouldn't call it 'live' by any standard. If I reconsider using damsels and instead use LR as you suggest - what is the minimum amount of LR needed for the tank to cycle? <Well- just about any amount you put in will help- shoot for like 1/2-1 lb per gallon, maybe...> A nearby fish store (NBFS?) sells semi-cured Fuji LR by the box.  Since this is a new tank with nothing in it - is it possible to cure the rock in the tank and cycle the tank at the same time? <This would be the best time to do it this way, if you're so inclined. You'll need to skim heavily, and be prepared for a lot of die off in the process...Maybe fully cured is better> My earlier question on dipping and quarantine: Should I acclimate the fish to the q-tank and then dip them after they have had 24 hours or so to adjust?  (It seems contradictory to me to spend an hour acclimating fish to new tank conditions and then running them through a dip on their way to the tank.) From your response are you are saying DON'T bother to acclimate them prior to the dip?! <Not exactly- sorry for the confusion. I'd let them adjust to the tank temperature, then dip them (in FW of the same temp.), then place them in. Yes, there may be a certain amount of trauma associated with this, but if it's done slowly and carefully, you should be fine. Do read up on the dip process on the wetwebmedia.com site> Thanks again, Michael <Any time, Michael. Keep on reading, learning! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Curing LR Hi, I recently purchased some uncured liverock from a local pet shop.  I have read on some web pages that before placing the rock into the tank--which was empty to begin with--I should brush off dead critters and/or algae.  But what should I do in the ensuing weeks, when the algae on top of the rock is increasingly turning brown?  Should I just leave it, or should I take it out and get it off?    I don't know if it will matter, but in case you are wondering about any other details, it's 6 lbs. of Fiji rock in a ten gallon tank with one small damsel.    I have no protein skimmer, and I currently have 2 power filters.  I was planning to maybe add more rock, a small clownfish, and maybe some small invertebrates. Thanks for the help. Andy Barton <A few things. You would benefit (as will your rock, fish) from getting/using a protein skimmer. Make this a priority. Do test your water quality... it and/or your light quality, strength may be letting you down here. Please read through our site starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm continuing through the linked files (in blue, at top). Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Curing Seems trying to get stuff together to cure this new live rock is not easy! <You need a tub/tank, salt water, low lighting, frequent water changes, a skimmer (optimal but still optional), time, and patience> Any input on brand names for the fluorescent bulbs with the proper Kelvin rating that will fit the shop lite and where I might find them?   <Home Depot should have something if not try Championlighting.com> We have most of major hardware type stores here such as Lowe's, Home Depot, Orchard Supply etc. The ones I bought have no info at all that is helpful.  I was looking for something inexpensive as they won't fit my aquarium so would just be for this one time use. <Don't worry about this. If the lights aren't going over the main tank permanently, any old light bulb will do. You don't really want a lot of light (a point of contention for some hobbyists) just a little> One more thing, how do I add carbon to the curing container?   <Carbon isn't needed. Follow the directions outlined at wetwebmedia.com and you will have no problems. The lights over curing rock isn't a big deal. In fact, if your main tank doesn't have live animals, I would place the rock there to cure it> Many thanks. <My pleasure! David Dowless>

Re: Live rock curing Thanks again for this great site! <our pleasure> Loved the comment to the grumpy anemone guy to start a stamp collection and let our wet pets live in peace!   <heehee... peace for all, by any means necessary> I am revamping a successful 55 gallon folrls after finding this site.  I have learned the fish I now have are way to big and need a new home, <ahh, yes. A common problem. And one that most of us have experienced first hand at least once> and my local (70 miles) fish store will take them in trade.   <outstanding! And I am grateful to your LFS as well for there good business sense and accommodation for these fishes and you as a hobbyist and customer. Its one of the many ways to keep a long term customer> I purchased an Aqua C Remora  protein skimmer and have 45 lb. of live rock coming in a couple of days from FFE.   <all cool> This will be added to the approx. 25 lb. already in the tank, after I re-cure the new.   <very wise> FFE says on its website not to use lighting when curing the live rock but that is not what I have read on this site.  What is your opinion on this?   <there are merits to both. If you can skim well and aggressively, then light will save more interesting plant matter if you want a better chance at it. However, without aggressive nutrient control (skimming, water changes, carbon) on curing rock... the light can mitigate a suffocating nuisance algae bloom. I personally am not very enthusiastic about non-calcareous algae in a reef tank but strongly encourage them for a fish tanks. In your case here... I say light and skim the curing tank> If lighting is your recommendation can I use an ordinary shop light with a fluorescent bulb? <yep... moderation will be fine/better. Look for a common daylight bulb over 5000K and as close to 10K as possible from the hardware store. 8 hours daily will be more than enough> Also if I don't purchase the already cured live rock will the stench be overwhelming if I cure it in an unused bathroom in my home? <depends on the batch... all bets are off. But do know that there is no such thing as "cured" live rock when shipped by air/ground. All will need some re-curing. My point is... don't pay from a mail-order imaginary product ("cured" live rock)> That would make the water changes and other maintenance considerably  easier than in the garage where there is little room.   <agreed, and likely OK. Curing typically only takes a couple days> By the way purchased both Bob's book and Anthony's.  Bob's arrived first and love it.  Can't wait  for Anthony's. Also am on your list for the new book coming out.  Thanks again for your help. <wow... thanks kindly for all. Now you can read and cure live rock at length in the bathroom <G>. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: Curing live rock Thanks...  that liverock was getting pretty bad... I did a water test the day before I put in the decaying liverock and there was no ammonia... now my ammonia is reading 1.0.   <ahh, yes... always best to assume that no live rock newly acquired is ever cured... tank for 2-4 weeks in isolation. Stinky I suppose <G>> My butterfly also has a small but noticeable red spot on his tail... ammonia burn?   <alas... I doubt it. More likely the beginning of an infection. Address quickly with Furazolidone and Nitrofurazone based antibiotics if it can be isolated> I figured that both fish would be dead if I left them in that tank so I put them in my main tank. <Oh, no... Hmmm. Some concern here for/if other fishes in the main tank. It would have been better to let the Butterfly and Angel struggle/die even in QT rather than infect the whole tank with hemorrhagic septicemia or the like. Even with no fishes in the display, the tank still gets infected and cannot be treated with antibiotics anyways (weakly effective for the volume of the tank with all that calcareous media [shells, gravel/sand, rock, etc]. Such antibiotics will also kill so much more good fauna if they are even effective at all. It sounds like some unfortunate decisions here and a hard lesson ahead. This whole matter comes down to proper QT protocol. One specimen per month in isolation... the definition of QT> Of note, will my small Firefish run into problems with my coral banded shrimp, pistol shrimp, or my emerald crab??   <any are likely to catch and kill this passive fish in time. Especially if sleeping or stressed. Consider the claw size of the arthropods mentioned: "form follows function" and they are opportunistic scavengers> It also appears that the two percula clowns are kinda bullying him.   <heehee... its been a bad week for them all> There are lots of hiding places and I have just over 2 inches of live sand for the most part in my main tank. Back to the liverock.  Should I try to take that piece of rock back to the store?   <if its a nice piece of rock and you like it... simply cure it in a separate tank or small plastic container. Vigorous water flow, skimming if possible and definitely some big water changes to keep ammonia down and spare life forms on the rock. Shame on the LFS though for selling raw/uncured rock> If not, if I put a powerhead on full blast against the rock... and every day turn it around to hit another angle of the rock?   <more a matter of needing better flow all around if this is so> I don't have another protein skimmer to take care of this rock. <no worries... water changes on the rock in a bucket if you can keep water temp stable> If I get all the angles of the rock and then check my water quality after a bit... will this work? <indeed... just a matter of a couple weeks in isolation> Can you be a bit more specific on curing the rock please? <there is a great bit of info in our archives on the process my friend. Do navigate the marine topics from the home page at www.wetwebmedia.com and read your way to wonderful enlightenment :) > Thanks you guys are awesome. Dave <thank you kindly, my friend. Anthony>

Cobwebs on live rock? Proper QT So leave my quarantine tank with just crushed gravel and otherwise empty? <not even that... the crushed coral or any type of gravel/sand is a serious danger and impediment to QT protocol. It traps detritus, harbors parasites and disease, absorbs medications if/when necessary... etc. A QT tank must be bare bottomed with only a plastic pipe or like non-porous artifact for temporary housing of animals in isolation. You can only QT ONE thing at a time too... a fish... live rock... or an invertebrate. But not multiples. Please have patience with one animal per month in QT.> Is it safe to put the live rock with the cobwebs in my main tank?  Should I pressure wash the stuff off?? <cannot say what it is... but if the rock is uncured and this is decay, the rock cannot be anywhere near fishes or other animals. Do blast off debris with strong flow in the tank and use a protein skimmer aggressively on curing live rock. Best regards, Anthony>

- Order of Operations in a New Tank - Mr. Bob Fenner & highly knowledgeable crew Greetings & Happy Holidays! <And greetings to you. JasonC here...> I have a few more questions. (of course) I am setting up a 90 gal. FO tank, and "everyone" recommends a deep sand bed and live rock for filtration.  I am having to buy new equipment in "installments" so the wife doesn't go ballistic on me.  I understand that I can add all the live rock at one time so it will cure in the tank & cycle the tank at the same time.  Do I have to scrub the "pre-cured" rock before I put it in? <I would approach this on a case-by-case basis - if the rock is covered in goo, for certain give it a rinse. If not, don't worry about it.> How much lighting will I need during the curing process, and will I need mechanical &/or carbon filtering? <The lighting you list below should suffice, although a second tube wouldn't hurt. You should probably at the very least run a protein skimmer while the live rock is curing.> I currently have a Bak-Pak2, which I believe is not big enough for my 90, <I would agree.> 1 NO 48" fluorescent fixture, a Magnum 350, a Fluval 303, and an Aqua clear 500.  After lengthy discussion, (begging) my wife is still strongly against a sump.   Besides which, I only have 18" of height inside the cabinet, so I will have to do all my skimming & filtration via hang on the back equipment.  I also only have 3.5" clearance between the canopy & glass top. What would be the best skimmer for my particular set-up? <I would suggest an AquaC Remora Pro.> Would I need more lighting for the rock during the curing process, and how long before I have to upgrade it to VHO? <Perhaps never - the fish really don't care about light type, and the live rock will do well with just about anything besides an incandescent light bulb.> Would the Amiracle hang-on wet-dry be of better use than the canisters during & after the curing? <I wouldn't suggest that, no. Instead, look into the CPR hang on refugiums and just put in more live rock. Use the canisters for mechanical filtration only - clean them once a week.> In which order should I make the upgrades, and should I upgrade before buying the rock? <Get the skimmer first, then the rock.> My local LFS' are just about worthless about marine issues, and there are so many differing "opinions" on these subjects that I am gonna go with the "experts" recommendations. Thanks a bunch, Neil <Cheers, J -- >

Curing Rock About a week ago I was upset when I received my LR shipment because the rock was pretty cold - from trip. I figured that I'd be in for a longer curing process. It has been in a tank with heater and power head to cure (my skimmer should be here Monday to greatly help with this process) for one week. I did one water change after day two and picked off some dead plant live. I just did an ammonia check and it was less than .25. From reading all the postings from your site, I was sure it would be much higher. Is it that there just hasn't been enough time for die-off yet, or do I have a lucky batch? <Could be a bit of both.> It was pre-cured Walt Smith. I am curious to see how much my skimmer picks up, but if after another week my ammonia is still low is it safe to start adding some to my tank? <I'd like to see it zero first, myself... Lots of people change water in the curing tank, too...Just a matter of preference...Give it a little more time...Well worth the wait for good quality rock> It is my first experience with LR, as I've had FO for 3 years, so I want to be safe. Thanks for the input. <And thanks for writing! Good luck! Scott F>

Live Rock... Done Curing Hi there... I'm back with more questions for you :)   I followed your advice about using live rock as a tank starter and so far, so good.  I have a 45 Gallon pentagon corner tank with a Proquatics canister filter (carbon only), one power head, and an AquaC Remora skimmer.  It has 45 pounds of Fiji LR.  I bought the LR about 4 weeks ago, and since I have no fish in the tank, I finished curing it in the tank.  I have been testing the water ever since, >for two weeks straight the Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0, Nitrate is 20ppm.  I took those measurements last week, and since I assumed the tank was cycled (having zero ammonia and nitrite for two weeks straight) I did a 50% water change.  Its been a week since that water change and I took another round of tests.  The only change is Nitrate has fallen to 10ppm.  As for PH, its 8.6, ALK is normal, Temp is 79F. <all sounds fine> Now for the questions.  I have two 15watt NO lights.  These are not the factory installed lights, they are supposedly 10,000k lights. <still too weak to be of much use for any invertebrates or plants> Anyway, I don't plan on getting hard corals or anemone.  Do I really need high output lights (VHO or PC?) for the LR?   <nope... these lights will be fine for the live rock> Of course I want the LR to flourish and grow with bright colors. <indeed... but water chemistry is more important here. Maintain very stable levels of Calcium, Alkalinity and Magnesium and you will enjoy very attractive growths on your live rock> I've been keeping the lights on for 3 weeks now (about 12 hours a day), and I have some growth (small mushroom type things, green outgrowths that are fanning out, brown stringy outgrowths.) However it doesn't seem like the coralline algae is growing or becoming more colorful.   <target 8-12 dKH, 350-425 pm Calcium and about 1200 ppm Mg> I have been using Kent Marine "Liquid Calcium", "Strontium & Molybdenum" and "Iodine" solutions to help promote growth.  Is this a good idea?   <please stop the liquid calcium ASAP. It is a temporary calcium and dangerous for long term use (accumulated chloride ions skew Ca/Alk dynamic and cause buffer/pH problems). Kalkwasser has far more benefits anyway. Much about this on the dailies and in the WWM archives> Some of these, like the Calcium recommend daily treatments... do I really need to be adding this solution every day?   <for most tanks yes. To maintain consistency and healthy live rock, coralline algae, inverts, etc. It takes mere seconds to dose... you will be inspecting your tank (temp, filter operations, feeding, etc) at least once a day anyway. No biggie> What do you recommend to make my LR flourish? <Jack Daniels and dancing girls> The last question I have is regarding live stock.  I want a "friendly tank", no aggressive fish.  I've been doing a lot of reading on what fish are a good match for each other, but of course I'd like your opinions. I've read that I should get a "clean up" crew, so, how many of what?   <not really necessary if you have appropriate water flow and aggressive protein skimming (a good skimmer that produces daily skimmate or nearly so). Otherwise, the crew gets picked after the display fishes for compatibility> As for the fish, how many inches of fish in a 45 Gallon tank?   <a terrible rule of thumb as some fish like triggers, puffer and other predators are scary messy for their "length" compared to other fishes. Still... I'd suggest not more than 15-20" of fish. Be mindful of their adult sizes too! This does not mean 20" of fish from go and then they grow bigger. 15-20" of adult/potential fish. That means 3-5 medium fishes. Perhaps a couple little ones too> My general ideas are to have a few smaller fish, with one larger fish.   <very wise> Since 45 gallon is generally a small tank, what's the largest fish I could get, say with two or three smaller fish?  And what would you recommend?  Trigger? Tang? <neither... no tangs are small enough as adults for this tank. Most triggers are also too large and too aggressive. One exception would be a Niger Odonus Trigger> Thank you in advance... You have helped me along a great deal so far! Justin <best regards, Anthony>

Re: Live Rock Taking Over Thanks Dave <You're most welcome!> You hit the nail on the head.  My lack of patience stems from the fact that my brother is not too happy with what he calls the 'water works.'   <My wife calls my tank "The Money Pit." It's not a term of endearment. HA!> My curing set up has taken over our apartment.   <We have a house. My water changes take over most of the kitchen, the bathroom, and part of the garage. Not to mention the 5' main display tank that's always in the living room...> 2 30 gal Rubbermaid's, tubes, buckets, pumps etc.  I guess he (& I) will just have to deal. <Look for a closet that you can call "the fish closet" and keep all of this stuff in there including the Rubbermaid containers. That's what I did and it sure helped> Lucky for me, there is no detectable odor in the room. If there was, my brother would probably throw the rock out the window.  It's hard for people to understand how important 'rock' can be.   <You think your brother is difficult? You should try to convince a wife that you need her to help pay for the rock...> I'm embarrassed to tell people that I paid over $300 for rock.   <Dude...you're killing me...I have a skimmer that I paid MORE than $300 for and I can't get it to collect 1 cup of skimmate a week! I sure ain't telling nobody!! Pssssssst...Wanna buy a new skimmer?> Anyway, thanks for your help and your speedy response. <You're welcome. I hope I've helped...at least it's been fun! David Dowless> Adam

Re: Curing LR I recently purchased 90# of LR from FFE (Precured Fiji).   <That's where I got my last #90 from!> As I am adding it to an established FO tank, <Careful here...This could be tricky...> I currently have the rock in a 30 gallon Rubbermaid with a mag 5 running my AquaC EV120 skimmer, and two additional pumps for circulation (mag 3 and mag12).   <Good job...I'm feeling better...> The temp is around 80-85 generating its heat from the pumps alone.  For the first 5 days, my skimmer was pulling out about 2 gallons per day, which I replaced with fresh mixed saltwater (after allowing it to mix overnight).  On day 6, I moved the rock and pumps into another 30 gallon garbage can with new saltwater that had mixed for two days (100% water change).  While moving the rock I only noticed 2 pieces that had a detectable odor.  Today (the end of day 7) my Kordon's Ammonia test gave me a reading of very light green, almost neon.  The color was even lighter than the 0.0 ppm color on the test chart (I tested this twice).  My nitrites were 0.  My questions are: Is the rock ready?   <My friend...patience here...Better wait "too long" than not long enough. I would give it at least another week. If this rock starts to die off in your tank it would be a major problem> As the rock cycles, would there be detectable ammonia and nitrite at the same time, or does the nitrite only show as the ammonia declines?   <Ammonia turns to nitrite (still toxic) and then to nitrate> How many days with no detectable nitrite are requires before the rock can be considered safe to add to the tank?   <If you can continue the curing process for another week (I'd feel better if you waited two more weeks), and all of the numbers stay 0 then it should be alright to add to the tank. You have to let the die off happen and then it will decompose. That's where the ammonia comes in. If the die off happens and you haven't waited for the decomposition to start and finish you will get an ammonia spike... the ammonia spike may be quick or it may last a while. That's why you want it to happen in the garbage can and not in your tank. IMO you are doing everything correctly...you're just getting low on patience!> How much rock should I add to the tank each day/week? <If the rock is completely cured (please wait at least one more week: I'd like for you to wait two more full weeks), you can add all of it at one time. The possibility of an ammonia spike is the reason why aquarist are often only able to add a little bit per week to the display tank. Wait long enough, this will not be a concern for you> And finally, what percent of my bioballs should I remove each day/week? <Let the rock stay in the display for a week or two and yank the bioballs. All of them> Thanks for your help. <You're more than welcome!> Adam <David Dowless>

Live Rock and Curing I have a curiosity question regarding live rock and the curing process.  I just purchased approx. 20 lbs. of live rock yesterday and arranged it inside of my 20 gallon aquarium which I had saltwater running through for approx. 2 days.  I placed the rock on the bare tank bottom as most texts and LFS folks seem to suggest.  Now, I'm going to wait the three to four weeks necessary to allow the live rock to "cure."  I have no problem with that, however I was curious if the live rock needs to be fed with phytoplankton or some other food source during this 3-4 week curing process?  Much to my delight, I have noted several live and active featherduster worms.  Do they need an extra source of food during this curing time, or will the rock and the curing of the rock provide enough food for them to survive?  Also, the rock has some regular/ordinary bristleworms living in it as well.  Will a hermit crab or some other bottom feeder do an effective job at controlling these bristleworms 6-7 weeks down the road from now?  Thanks for your input and for providing such an informative site. Regards, Jim Troeger <Hi Jim, try this link and those listed at the top of the page.   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm You want to perform water changes to reduce wastes so you can keep your rock life alive.  Test regularly (daily). The rock needs a heater, brisk circulation, aggressive skimming, perhaps carbon, and as close to optimum conditions possible.  Don't worry about the worms, they keep things cleaned up themselves. Some people feed curing rock, some don't. If you feed it will require more water changes and testing.  This is not a passive process.  Craig>

Rock and Roll! Hey gang, been curing this Florida cultured rock I picked up from my transhipper for almost 2 weeks now. Knowing nothing about corals and the like, I have all kinds of stuff attached to the rock that I don't know is alive or I should be scraping off or what, this clear jelly looking stuff with what looks like small pieces of rice inside (some sort of coral?) <Could be a sponge-hard to say from here> another red thing that looks like a little red pepper etc.., being that I got the rock shortly after airport arrival, I don't know what might be o.k. if anything at all, and if I should be taking it off the rock before adding to my tank (130g,180 pounds live rock, couple tangs, a trigger, a wrasse, lion, tomato clown), thanks as always guys!.... <Well- it sounds like you are receiving uncured live rock, fresh from the collector, yes? If so- this should NEVER be added directly to an established system, for several reasons (large potential die off of attached life (pollution), possible undesirable life, such as crabs, etc, and excessive detritus and debris. Do place into a different tank or plastic trash can with a heater and aeration for a period to allow undesirable life, detritus, etc. to "fall off". Also, do equip yourself with a good book on tropical marine life to identify some of the creatures that are "aboard" the rock! Do water changes regularly during the curing process. Use the resources here on wetwebmedia.com for more information on the handling of live rock. Good luck  Scott F.>

New System, New Live Rock Hello! <Hi! Gage Harford helping out tonight> My new 55-gallon tank is my first marine tank. <awesome, great place to start.> I have been an avid reader of your FAQs, Bob's CMA book, and various other books on the subject for over a year now (I did a lot of research). <spectacular> I ordered 65 lbs of uncured Tonga flat rock from FFexpress a short while back (it arrived on Halloween), and setup my new 55-gallon tank with it and with 80 lbs of Florida crushed coral - aragonite formula.  I scrubbed off all macroalgae, sponges, and anything that had turned black or white, and rinsed the pieces with warm saltwater before putting them in as I had read to do from the FAQs.  I turned on my powerheads, fired up my protein skimmer (an AquaC Remora, just as the FAQs said to get - hard to find around here!), and not much happened. <nice choice in skimmers, I enjoy mine.> A week later, I have yet to collect even a single whole cup of skimmate, with the collection cup all the way down (supposed to produce the most skimmate, as per the instructions). <Yup, lots of wet foam, but give it time, this is a new set up.> Plus, despite my running of the lights (3 watts/gal of 50/50 fluorescent) <I promise not to tell Anthony you said watts per gallon.  This general rule of thumb is no good.  It totally depends on your tank, and your tank inhabitants http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marlgtganthony.htm > 12 hours a day, my coralline algae that was once covering the rocks is turning white and disappearing (from a possible strontium deficiency, as I see in the other FAQs). <Or possibly bleaching.> I don't have a calcium test kit yet (plan to get test kits today), but I have been adding a teaspoon of Kent Marine's Concentrated Liquid Calcium daily since the beginning. <Test kits are crucial, it is the only way to tell what is really going on.> I also plan to add a pH buffer and essential micronutrients (strontium, iodine, etc.) starting today.  A rudimentary test of my water parameters shows the following: Temp: 80 degrees F spg: 1.024 pH: 7.8 ammonia: 8+ ppm nitrite: 0 nitrate: 0 I was trying to do this the FFexpress (set it up and forget it until it cycles) way, but the ammonia has gone out of the range of my test kit, he pH has dropped, and I am getting worried.  I am going to do a massive 75% water change today.  Have I already ruined my live (dead?) rock with super-high ammonia levels? <Not necessarily, but big water changes are going to be beneficial.> I don't mind a lot about losing life on/in the rocks other than the beneficial bacteria, since I plan to add my own macroalgae and inverts later, but I don't want my "filter" to be ruined. Any advice is greatly appreciated!  By the way, I love your site!  Very informative! Cory <While your rock is curing and your tank is cycling water changes are going to play a big role in keeping ammonia down.  What type of water are you using, sea water from the LFS, or are you mixing it yourself?  Lots of information here:  http://wetwebmedia.com/seawater.htm  Gage>

Curing Live Rock Hey gang, I've emailed you guys in the past and you've been a great help, up until a couple weeks ago... <you know... the whole meaning of that first sentence would have changed if the comma was moved to the place right after the word "ago" Ha!> my family owned a store here (went ablaze), <yowsa... nobody was hurt I assume/pray> I went to a supplier (trans shipper) a couple days ago and picked up 70 pounds of Florida cultured rock <AKA "pretty concrete"> for my home 130g FOWLR tank, I inspected and rinsed about 15 pounds of it and added it to my tank <dangerous my friend beyond any curing issues... a surefire way to tempt fate and introduce a parasite, pest or disease. QT if not cure all live rock for 2-4 weeks. Else it is a game of Russian roulette... nobody wins the game, some just get to play a little longer> (tank has around 150 pounds of mainly Fiji, some indo and some Florida already, tank is around 8 months old, contains a couple tangs, an angel, a trigger a wrasse and a lion. I know, I know, but all small...lol), <for now...> no problems to report with the rock I added, but here's my question: I have the rest of the new rock in a 20g Rubbermaid container with a powerhead and a light. I am not noticing the rotten smell that goes along with curing rock and am wondering if I would be stupid to think I could add the rest (or small portions at a time) to my tank, <yes... it would be stupid. Thanks for asking!... next question <G>?> being that I got it from my trans shipper, I am suspecting it being around 24 hours out of water and into the wet newspaper box. I run a wet/dry on the tank with bioballs and a good skimmer, the reason for stocking up on rock is to start eliminating the bio balls. I know the Florida rock is dense, <dense?!?! Concrete is dense... that stuff is like marble!> but it is the best looking, <agreed... many Caribbean and Atlantic rocks are some of the most beautiful in the world. Most of that growth (sponge, Bryozoan, etc) doesn't last more than a year or two for most people> and I have lots of Fiji and will likely be adding more....your thoughts?....thanks  guys, always recommended your site to customers.... <Ha1, thank you my friend for being an educated consumer and vendor. We need more like you (unless of course you put the rock in anyway or leave those fishes together for more than a year or two [total adult sizes amass over 60"]. Ha! Best regards, Anthony>

Hi Guys, Here is one of those new tank questions with a twist <Hi Tim> My tank is a standard 29 gallon. I put 40# of Arag-alive sand from Carib-sea on the bottom. On the third day I placed four good sized dead shrimp in the tank. They started getting a very large jelly like clear-opaque substance on them. About four days after that I placed 36# of Lalo Live Rock from LiveAquaria.com and removed the shrimp. It has now been four more days and the rock is now covered with this same jelly substance. It smells horrible also. I do not have a skimmer on the tank but do have "floss" running in the filter area and a bio-wheel. There are sign that algae (maybe) is starting to grow on the glass as I can see some little teeny tiny strings maybe 1/32 of an inch. I really want to get into this hobby, in fact, I already have a 200 in the planning stages. I just did not think that it would this disgusting. It's kinda funny in a sick way because the tank is in our bedroom. My wife went to see one of her friends this weekend and it has really started to stink. When she gets home she will probably have a cow. Your input would be appreciated beyond belief. I need as much help as I can get. PS. The water parameters are Ph 8.0, Nitrite none, Nitrate none, Ammonia off the scale. The ammonia test kit shows a green color chip but after about three minutes the test turns dark blue. Way high Ammonia. I have already done two 50% water changes. I need a lot of help. or at least a loaf of bread for this jelly. : ) Thanks, Tim <Alrighty, you probably didn't need the shrimp! The rock is not "cured" so it is driving your ammonia beyond the shrimp.... Best to do large water changes, run a skimmer 24/7, plenty of circulation and powerheads, carbon in a cartridge filter, etc. The life on the rock is decomposing which contributes to the ammonia. This will then be processed into nitrite, which will start to go off the scale here shortly, you will see it on your tests. When this and ammonia test zero and nitrates are up, your nitrogen cycle will be complete. Do several 25% water changes to lower nitrates and think about a cleaner crew. Don't worry! Export the nutrient you have now with big water changes, you will still have ammonia, but get it on the scale. I do wish you the best with your wife....change plenty of water....and get it skimmed and moving. Next time just use the rock, you don't shrimp with uncured new rock! It stinks all on it's own! Craig.>

Calcium supplement What brand of calcium supplement would you recommend for live rock? <for coralline growth only I really like Seachem's Reef Calcium (an organic sugar-based calcium gluconate). Simply outstanding for growing coralline algae (pink/purple, etc). 4 months of faithful use and it will look like a whole new tank :) For coral growth however, Kalkwasser supported by proper alkalinity (buffer) is recommended when a calcium reactor is not possible/present. I use a Knop calcium reactor from General Aquatics for convenience but still like Kalkwasser very much. Best regards, Anthony> Elizabeth K. Birdwell

New tank setup, curing live rock Bob. Greetings again. I have run into another issue that has been written about in a multitude of variations and I'm just not sure who is telling the truth (dealers that want my money are hard to trust). So I again turn to you for some guidance. I am going to be setting up a 265 gallon within the next week and a half. I am building a sump out of a 29 gal aquarium with a filter pad at the inlet (fed by CS102 overflow 1600 gph), a Euroreef G2 skimmer (up to 250 gal tank) and Mag18 (1800 gph) return pump. There will also be a Magnum canister filter (350 gph) with micron cartridge (should I use carbon or micron filter?)  <I'd run carbon... and switch it out once a month> fed directly from the tank. Then I was going to add between 270 and 325 lbs of live rock. I intended on getting only pre-cured Fiji from FFExpress, but this is where I get conflicting reports. I have been told that I can get uncured and let the tank cycle do the curing since it is a new tank. Other places do not recommend this since uncured live rock is really bad smelling and can introduce many unwanted pests. <Unless it's a huge money savings, get the mostly to almost all cured variety... false economy, as you say, in time, smell, water change costs...> Also, I wouldn't have the capability to do large water changes...I'm still looking for a storage container to hold ~30gal for normal changes (toxins leaching out of plastic storage bins has been a growing concern)!  <Investigate, invest in a better "can" like a Rubbermaid (tm) Brute... with a cover... and maybe some nice wheels... If you can't find one, look in the "yellow pages" under "janitorial supplies"... a one-time purchase, and well worth it> So my main question is, if I buy the pre-cured live rock from FFExpress, what is the likelihood that I will be able to get ~300 lbs of cured rock all at once. <Should be able to... some friends ship them thousands of pounds at a throw...> Also, if I wanted to get some uncured (Manono Island) can I cure it in the tank with the pre-cured rock?  <Should be okay... difficult to guess at variables like weather, or whether or not your delivery person will be late...> At what proportions could I do this without "killing" the tank and having to resort to massive water changes? I realize that this is all subjective and you may not be able to give specifics, but any help and/or links on the subject would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for your time and help....my fish will thank you too when they are happily swimming around their new habitat. Tim Damon <Maybe ten, twenty percent of the Fiji.... shouldn't create much more likelihood of problems of water changes, et al., than using just the Fiji. Bob Fenner>

Cycling?/Quarantine? Hello WWM crew! I recently started my new 55 gallon acrylic tank from scratch. I have 60 lbs. of LR cycling it with my Bak-Pak skimmer running. It's been 2 weeks and I haven't had a nitrite or ammonia spike although ammonia sits at 0.25 ppm. Nitrate 0 PH 8.0 Is it almost cycled? <You are done when ammonia and nitrite are both zero.> The LR was sitting in the LFS's display tanks for a couple of weeks. I have a lot of green alga starting to grow on the rock and parts of the tank. I have a 96w CP smart bulb. Is the algae an indicator? <Not really.> I know I read something about that somewhere. Maybe run some activated carbon? <I like to use activated carbon, but that has little to nothing to do with cycling or the algae.> I've been reading your FAQ's on quarantining livestock and I found two conflicting responses. I'd like to add some hermit crabs and snails pretty soon. Should I quarantine them? <It is best to do so.> Since I'm here, how many of each should I purchase? <I would leave out the crabs and just get a half dozen snails.> What type of hermit crabs and snails should I get? <I like Turban, Nerites, and Cerith snails, as well as Limpets (hitchhikers mostly).> Turban snails have been mentioned in your FAQ's as been better than others. True? <Astrea/Turbo snails have a tendency to fall over, land on the sand, and die because they cannot right themselves.> Darn, thought this would be a quick email, sorry it isn't :) Thanks a ton as always...have a nice day. Justaguy <You too. -Steven Pro>

Sterilize tank/ quarantine live rock???? Mr. Fenner, <Steven Pro, part of the www.WetWebMedia.com crew, here this morning.> First off really great site and book (The Conscientious Marine Aquarist). I couldn't find these answers in the FAQs, looked for a while hope I am not repeating someone else's questions. Couple of questions: First I had a really bad outbreak of ich in 175 gallon tank that was not solved by going fallow even after 3 months, so I tore it down and want to start from scratch. <I assure you the ich was dead that was left behind in the main display after one month. If the fish got sick again, it was from a different reason.> Is there a way to sterilize/clear the ich out of the dried out (dead) live rock so I can use it for base rock, and do I need to clean/sterilize the tank or will letting be dry for a month while I am moving be enough? <Everything is dead now.> If I need to sterilize, what should I use? <You have successfully sterilized everything already, but it was unnecessary and probably will not help/get to the heart of your problem.> Secondly, when I start again, I am aware of quarantine for fish (boy have I learned). What about live rock/sand, is there anyway to make sure that it doesn't carry some bad bacteria into my tank? <It should be quarantined to remove crabs and other undesirable hitchhikers.> Also, I was told that using a UV sterilizer with live rock in the tank would be detrimental, is this true? <It could be detrimental in a reef tank, but does no harm in a fish-only tank (although I have found then to be not very useful either for home hobbyists, businesses are another matter).> Thank you for your time, Gary <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

live rock curing Hi everyone- Could you please tell me if it is harmful to keep 40 lbs live rock in a Rubbermaid tub for an extra month after it is cured? <Perhaps harmful to algae, but beneficial to planktonic life. No predators allows them to flourish.> I cured it for a new tank and I am not ready for it yet. The tank has been established for 4 years but I am going through a major case of the red slime algae right now and I wanted to get that cleared up somehow first before I add the rock. Otherwise the new rock will just be one more thing I will be cleaning the slime off of. Should I be adding some organic matter so the bacteria grow? <Maybe feed the rock just a tiny bit of fish food occasionally.> The rock keeps getting covered in some sort of brown stuff that settles on it. Where does that come from? <Diatoms or detritus> Is this telling me that the bacteria are alive and well? <Not really telling you anything at this point. It could be one or the other above mentioned things.> Can I just shake the brown stuff off and drop some of the rock it in the 55 gallon tank when I am ready? <If it is detritus, it should be siphoned out. If diatoms, it is normal and no need to worry or act.> Thank you <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

RE: Bringing dead live rock back to live. How Long should I soak the rock for before adding it piecemeal to the tank? Soak it in fresh or saltwater? Thanks in advance for your quick response. <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm and the articles linked, FAQs files beyond for more of a complete picture on what live rock curing is about. Bob Fenner> -Pat

Curing Live Rock Bob, et. al, First let me say I've been reading your posts/replies for several weeks, trying to learn all I can before asking previously-answered questions... And wow, what a great web site - you'll be getting free advertising from me. <Thank you kindly.> I'm starting a 10-gallon nano-reef and have just finished building a custom canopy with AHSupply.com's 2 x 36 actinic/white lighting (great stuff - took me all of 20 minutes to install). If you're interested, it can be seen at: http://www.picturetrail.com/gallery...4032&uid=647360 <Your work looks very nice.> I've purchased a Red Sea Prizm Skimmer, Ebo Jager 75W heater & refractometer. Being a newbie (yes, I know a 10-gallon tank will be very challenging), I've been reading about reefs nightly for several weeks, and I'm willing to spend a great deal of time up front to ensure precision. Here are my questions for you: 1) When the time is right, I plan on buying live rock from Walt Smith International, per your recommendation. Is it okay to cure the live rock in it's permanent home, the 10-gallon tank, and add corals a few months later? <Yes> 2) Should I wait until after the rock is cured to add live sand? (really showing my newbie-ness now) <Yes> 3) For a 10 gallon, would you use a Rio 50 or Rio 90 powerhead, and one or two for a 10-gallon? <I would use two powerheads for a total of 100-200 gph> 4) Which test kit would you recommend? <For a reef tank, you will need pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, alkalinity, and calcium kits.> I think I did pretty well here - my list of questions shrank down to 4 from an original 22, thanks to your website. I'm sure the answers to these questions are buried somewhere as well. <Much of our information can be found using the Google search of www.WetWebMedia.com at the bottom of the page.> Thanks in advance! Ross in Fort Worth, Texas <You should look up the Dallas/Fort Worth Marine Aquarium Society and the 14th annual Marine Aquarium Conference of North America (MACNA 14) at http://www.dfwmas.com/ -Steven Pro>

Re: Live Rock & Cloudy Water Thanks for your reply. I have been doing 20% water changes everyday, and this seems to be keeping ammonia levels at 0. But of course the water is still extremely cloudy (as I'm sure it will be for quite some time). What I would like to know is, if I bought a small tank and took out all the rock that needs to cure out of my main tank and cured it in the small tank will that harm the rock at all? <No, that is the preferred method of curing rock, in a separate vessel. Note that this does not have to be another aquarium. It can just as easily be a Rubbermaid tub or something similar. If you do buy a second tank for this purpose, it can later be used as your quarantine/hospital tank.> I'm pretty sure that this will solve the problem in the main tank and protect my fish. I know this question is probably self explanatory but I'd rather not make another mistake like the first one! :) <No problem.> Thanks again, Derrick Lewis <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Green Water Steve, I have emailed you a couple times over the past week, regarding the problem with green water in the tank after putting live rock in the tank without re-curing it. <I remember.> I have since removed the live rock to cure in a separate tank. The problem is I have done 20-45% water changes everyday. The water seems to clear up very slightly after the water change but by the next day it is completely green again! I have read that algae blooms are caused by excess nitrates or too much lighting. My nitrates are not even detectable (tested with 2 separate test kits), I have only been feeding the fish very small amounts of food once per day since the water turned green. <Unfortunately, you seem to be stuck in a cycle. There are enough nutrients to fuel the bloom at this point. Every time you dilute them, the rest just reproduce to fill the void.> I have a LT anemone so I use PC lighting of about 3 watts per gallon (half 10k & half actinic) which I leave on for about 8 hours. I don't know if I should keep the lights off or what? <No, I would not want your anemone to suffer.> I'm at a loss because the water changes are not doing anything. Before I added the additional live rock my water was crystal clear. Please any extra help you could give would be appreciated! <I have two options for you. One, get yourself a UV sterilizer. This should take care of your bloom in short order. The downside is the expense and that you should not ever need it again. Option two is a little strange. You could try introducing some saltwater Rotifers. Rotifers feed on green water and when you have your rotifers contaminate your green water cultures, the green water cultures crash. This option is cheap, but may take a little longer.> Thanks, Derrick Lewis <Good luck! -Steven Pro>

Is it possible (quickie cycling?), Test Kits accurate? quick question for you guys, <K...> Is it possible for a tank to cycle through the nitrite AND Nitrate portion of a new set up within 3 days?  <not even remotely possible... but bogus test kit readings are VERY possible> My 75gal has been up and running about 1 month now the Ammonia went way up and then I didn't test for like 3 days and have not seen a Nitrite or Nitrate spike at all. Just curious. <nitrate will accumulate at the end at any rate... do not expect that to drop without water changes or a deep sand bed (over 3") and several weeks to several months> Thanks Colleen Pittsburgh, PA <don't forget... PMASI picnic Aug 24th :) Anthony>

is it possible (Bob's try) quick question for you guys, Is it possible for a tank to cycle through the nitrite AND Nitrate portion of a new set up within 3 days? My 75gal has been up and running about 1 month now the Ammonia went way up and then I didn't test for like 3 days and have not seen a Nitrite or Nitrate spike at all. Just curious. <Is possible... have seen situations where there was no apparent "break in" period at all! Bob Fenner> Thanks Colleen Pittsburgh, PA

is it possible (take 3) Colleen... I just noticed that Bob replied to you as well with a rather different perspective. We are answering a lot of mail fast today and both gave you the short answer on either end of the spectrum. Let me clarify here... it IS possible (with fully cured and well established live rock or another bio-filter) to have a tank cycle with little or no obvious nitrite spike. However, this is VERY uncommon and not worth mentioning to most aquarists IMO for fear of someone stocking a tank before the next (and likely) spike. Furthermore, Nitrates are inevitable for most aquarists except , again, in rare cases where you start with a deep and mature bed of sand (say 5+") and have other favorable factors (little or no fish/feeding, a wicked skimmer that works optimally from go, etc). I hope this helps you dear... my apologies for the quickie/"greater good" first answer. Anthony>

Re: is it possible Anthony & Bob Thanks for both of your answers and Anthony for your follow up. to give a little insight (Anthony you are familiar with both places I'm sure) I purchased the live rock from 2 different places Elmer's and Seahorse both removed it directly from some of their display tanks therefore I feel yes it was very cured. Both are established tanks with critters living and thriving in them. The sand bed however is crushed coral (looks like baby shells) and only about 3/4 - 1 inch deep by suggestion of the guys from Elmer's. I now have about 30lbs of rock and only 1 sebae clown and 1 yellow tailed blue damsel which I only feed sparingly once a day. the Ammonia did go up to 1.0 but then dropped. Trying to decide when to make my next move and what that should be. a clean up crew? another fish? not really sure, going to do some more research here. <Have visited both places (though Steven and Anthony live in the neighborhood). Next stocking step, whatever you want to utilize as a clean-up crew. Bob Fenner, who will also send your note to Antoine> Thanks for all your help and always being there. Colleen Pittsburgh, PA

Re: is it possible Anthony & Bob Thanks for both of your answers and Anthony for your follow up. to give a little insight (Anthony you are familiar with both places I'm sure) I purchased the live rock from 2 different places Elmer's and Seahorse both removed it directly from some of their display tanks therefore I feel yes it was very cured.  <I am familiar with both of course and in fact know both of their suppliers. Seahorses rock is air shipped and NOT cured locally. Elmer's rock is cured by a regional supplier and is most always fully cured... but just barely. It would not be fair to call rock from these or most any LFS "VERY" cured. We are talking 2 weeks cured maximum> Both are established tanks with critters living and thriving in them. The sand bed however is crushed coral (looks like baby shells) and only about 3/4 - 1 inch deep by suggestion of the guys from Elmer's.  < a little too deep unless you vacuum the substrate regularly (weekly or close to it)... else you can easily get a nasty algae bloom within a year from detritus accumulation> I now have about 30lbs of rock and only 1 sebae clown and 1 yellow tailed blue damsel which I only feed sparingly once a day. the Ammonia did go up to 1.0 but then dropped. Trying to decide when to make my next move and what that should be. a clean up crew? <resist the crew as long as you don't see a need (accumulating detritus, brown diatom algae, etc). A good skimmer and good water flow reduces the need for janitors (few snails and rarely hermits or cucumbers)> another fish?  <likely a better choice> not really sure going to do some more research here. Thanks for all your help and always being there. Colleen Pittsburgh, PA <best regards, Anthony>

Live Rock <<Greetings,>> I have a question for you all, I have read all about curing live rock in your articles but nothing about this. <<Well, it will be there now.>> A friend of mine is going to give me his live rock which is around ten or twenty pounds but it has not been in a tank for a couple years so it was dried out long ago. My question is how would the proper way of curing this live rock to add to my reef tank. <<Well, there's not much to cure.>> Would I want to scrub off all of the old dead algae until the rock is completely bare? <<Sounds like a good plan.>> Is there any special treatment for dead live rock? <<Not really, you've got the right plan.>> Thanks Dave Cornell <<Cheers, J -- >>

Live Rock Hi Guys. I want to go over the process of curing LR. Read thru FAQ and want to make sure I understand. I'm setting up a new 75 gallon tank. One question is, I was thinking of getting 3 45# boxes of LR, totaling 135#. Is this enough? <Seems like more than enough. Ninety pounds should do you.> Setting tank up for reef. Biological filtration of LR and DSB. Sump only for skimming, mechanical and chemical filtration. On to the curing (re-curing) process. When I receive the rock I plan on rinsing it off w/ freshwater and knocking/cleaning brown areas large kelp, macroalgae. <I prefer to shake each piece in a bucket of saltwater to dislodge as much dirt and detritus as possible vs. the freshwater rinse. Removing sponges and macroalgae is still a good idea.> Planning on adding all the LR to main tank at one time and setting it up the way it will stay (On the DSB). Using lights on for 12 hours. Protein skimmer. Will have plenty of circulation. Putting a powerhead connected to PVC spray bar behind the LR with the spray over the DSB behind LR. Maintain pH, Alk, temp. Due partial water changes when NH3, NO2, get high (more than ppm). Does this sound sufficient or am I missing something? <Sounds like a good plan.> Thanks again, Bryan <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Kole Tang Eating habits and LR Cycling Hello there, I have a funny question...being a guy (last time I checked) I like to laugh at things gaseous, smelly and loud...so in a related topic, I noticed that my Kole Tang eats my other fishes' poop (yellow tang, 4 damsels - all provide the Kole with freebies). Now, one of my dogs has been doing this for years, with no obvious health consequences other than bad teeth and horrendous dog breath, but I was wondering if this is unhealthy for a fish. <<Interesting question... for your dog, this is only a throw-back to the wolf gene all dogs carry. Wolves often bring food home to the den only to offer it back to the pups in a semi-digested form. Fish on the other hand... who knows. This is an observed and documented behavior in several species of fish, and is really quite normal.>> Is this behavior normal for a Kole Tang. <<Not sure about the Kole tank in particular, but I'm not surprised.>> I alternate feedings of Formula 2 and Nori everyday with Mysis shrimp (when I feed the anemones and polyps), and I see it grazing on the algae covered rocks and glass. It constantly has a full stomach (of what... I hasten to guess). <<let's not go there... oops, too late.>> My other question concerns my LR. I put in my "pre-cured rock" after ammonia readings were <0.1 and three weeks of re-curing in a 40 and 20 gallon bin with skimmer and two power heads. It went into my established (for about 10 years) 55 gallon with fish. I worried that weekend, and feared that I put it in too quickly...I did not test for nitrites, foolishly. Today, in the late afternoon, I tested the ammonia, which came up as zero, or close to it from what I can tell off the color chart. It hasn't been a month, but is there a chance that the ammonia will spike up again or re-cycle? <<I don't think so, you are likely fine.>> I have an Aqua-C Urchin in a ten gallon sump, built-in overflow, bio-balls, Chemi-pure, and two sweeping power heads in the tank. Do you think that the tank was capable of taking care of the stress from adding 45lbs of rock at one time since it had already been through its cycling, many moons ago? <<Well, that and you did pre-cure the rock...>> All inhabitants are doing fine, with no casualties since January, except for my cinnamon clown who thought it was superman and leaped out last week...probably got disgusted at the sight of the Kole eating poop. <<perhaps.>> Thanks, Randy M. Yniguez, MA <<Cheers, J -- >>

LR Curing Hola mis amigos, It seemed like you guys had a few days off....I hope they were fun filled and well spent. <Days off? I must've been drinking tequila/tah kill yah again... Don't remember two minutes off> I am confused about the LR curing/cycling process. I put 45 lbs. of LR in a bin (after scrubbing and rinsing) with an aqua clear PH (302?) and a Rio 1700(?) with a Visi-jet protein skimmer. The circulation is great in a 40 gallon bin, and the skimmer is miraculously pumping out lots of "salty coffee" twice a day.  <Great, yuck, good> I tested the ammonia about two days after beginning the curing. Not surprisingly, it was over 6.1 (or something astronomically high...I use the Hagen brand test kit). Now, I waited another two days, tested ammonia again and got the same result. I did a very conservative water change of about 10 gallons or so two days ago. <I would do a much less conservative change to bring it down below 1.0 and add buffering capacity, check pH... per the ongoing input on LR and curing posted on our site> I haven't tested yet, but should I have waited at least a week or so before testing the water? Did I change the water too soon? <No on both counts> I have read that the ammonia levels will lower on their own even without the water changes (on this site I think???), <Will take much longer to "go all the way" w/o your help... and likely kill off much more of what you'd like to keep w/o water quality improvements> but I thought that it would expedite the cycling process if I gave it new water. Please help. BTW, I am adding SeaChem calcium, as per label instructions, <Good idea. I would also add sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or its commercial product equivalent, with testing... maintain a good 8-10 meq/l of alkalinity> light only from the sun coming through the window (glass is frosted), <I differ from some others in encouraging full illumination (of whatever kind you have/employ) in the curing process> SG is at 1.025, water temp between 80-82. Last, I would like to give a shout out to my homeboy Bryan, 'cause he gave a shout out to me in an earlier question...apparently, I'm his 'Peep.' Yo-yo-yo Bryan. Thanks a bunch, Randy M. Yniguez, MA <---degree is in Ebonics <Hotay! Bob Fenner, who encourages you to re-read over the FAQs sections on LR on WetWebMedia.com>

Live Rock Question Hello, <<and hello to you, Jim.>> I have a few questions regarding some live rock that I bought about 2 weeks ago. The LFS said it was cycled and I am not sure that it was the case. <<it rarely is...>> I keep getting a 0.25 ammonia reading and my PH is at 8.6 and my ALK is at 8. <<this is likely die-off of the fauna in the live rock you just added.>> I have what I believe is a diatom outbreak and it wont go away. I have a SeaClone skimmer that doesn't pull much from the tank and now I am getting light brown slime algae on the walls of the tank about every 2 days. <<Ahh, those Seaclones - aren't really well designed I'm afraid. Diatoms are best addressed via the water you are using to build your mix-water with. You may need RO filtration.>> I think the rock is cycling but I am not sure. The 10# of rock that I had is about 3 months old and is now covered in brown "what I think is diatom algae" and is fairly dark, and the new rock is almost white in some areas but is holding a descent purple coralline algae, but 90% of the green coralline is gone. I am doing water changes of about 25% a week and the algae does not want to go away. <<Well, if this is truly a diatom outbreak, you are likely adding a new batch of diatoms with every water change.>> I noticed tonight that I also have a few patches of deep red algae on the substrate and a little patch on the rock. I am not sure what this is but based on the rest of my descriptions I do not feel like this is really a good thing. <<It's not a terrible thing. You just want to address these things before they get out of hand.>> My tank specs are as follows: 55 Gallon Tank 25# Fiji LR 2 x 55 w power compacts (10 hours / day) Emperor 400 Filter 2 Maxijet 1200 Powerheads SeaClone Skimmer 1 False Percula 1 Coral Beauty 1 Green Chromis Your thoughts would be appreciated, before I drop a stick of dynamite in the tank!!! <<Ahh... don't punish the tank, it isn't driving this bus, you are. I would consider three things right off the bat: First, upgrade that skimmer to something more efficient, perhaps the AquaC Remora which is a hang-on-tank model. Next, consider RO filtration, or if you can afford it RO/DI. The best tact to take here is to get your water tested - or obtain some RO water from the local fish store and use that as top-off and the base of your mix water. If this gives you the upper hand on the diatoms, then you know what you'll invest in next. Lastly, I see more live rock in your future and perhaps even another powerhead. When you get more live rock, re-cure it in a five gallon bucket with a heater and a pump for a couple of weeks... is cheap insurance - this would also be a good place for your SeaClone as any skimming is better than none ;-) >> Thank You For Your Time,

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