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FAQs about Live Rock 2

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Related FAQs: Live Rock, Answering Some LR FAQs by James Fatherree, Live Rock 1, LR 3LR 4, LR 5, LR 6, LR 7, Curing Live Rock, LR Life Identification, Live Rock Selection, Shipping/Moving, Placement, Lighting, Water Quality, Live Rock Studies in Fiji Collaboration & ChartsCopper UseMarine Landscaping, Marine BiotopeSumps, RefugiumsFaux RockBase Rock

Live rock... examined closed will reveal sponges, ascidians, algae of many types, worms of a few phyla... in/on/as it. 

Lost fish and rocks due to power outage, can you  help? I lost my power do to an ice storm here in Kansas a few days ago, I just got my power back a week later. I was able to save two fish a snowflake moray eel and a lunare wrasse. I lost everything else due to freezing weather. How long will the live rock in my tank last at temperatures below 40 degrees? <Several hours to a few days> Is it any good or should I just count it all lost? <I would NOT toss it... but re-warm to tropical temperatures over a few days time, see what comes back, possibly add a few pounds over and amongst it in a few weeks to re-seed> My fish survived two days of temps below 40 degrees before I found a temporary place in a neighbors tank to house them. I don't know if I will be able to get them back as restarting my tank will cost too much money for awhile. Oh well. Any help about the live rock would be helpful. <Take your time here... first things first as the saying goes... Bob Fenner>

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

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

Aquarium Set Up/Marine Crew, Could I get away using 20lbs of dead rock with my 55 lbs live rock for my Berlin system? <Yes you can.  Eventually the dead rock will become seeded from the live rock but will take some time.  James (Salty Dog)> Saurav Trip to Fiji... Live Rock? 3/30/05 Hello! We are thinking about planning a vacation to Fiji or the Fijian Islands (don't know much about them yet!) and we wanted to know if it was realistic to plan to stop at Walt Smith's facilities and hand pick out some premium LR and have them ship it back for us?  <Probably not. Although you may be able to get a tour, the paperwork and permits required to import the rock would be prohibitive. You may be able to arrange to pick your rock and have it delivered to you through a wholesaler.> We have a 200 gal (not set up yet) and a 72 gal (this currently has about 80 lbs of LR) and we are planning to get a 125 gal and will need rock for all of these, plus for some of the refugiums (are planning to build multiple refugiums for each set-up so we can harvest many different types of natural foods, NNR, etc.- Anthony's book on Coral propagation is the culprit!) so we are thinking we need about 800 lbs or so and wondered if this would be a way to get that much (we would cure it at our facilities) and save some money on it as well as be able to pick out premium pieces....  <I can't imagine that you will need that much rock. If you get good quality rock, as little as 1-1.5lb per gallon of display volume will handle all of your filtration needs. Even if you want more to add habitat in a refugium, etc. you shouldn't need more than 400lb.> Any thoughts on going to Fiji, getting LR while we are there (through Walt Smith or ?), great places to dive there and snorkel hopefully (my fianc? takes Coumadin (warfrin) and has been told he cannot scuba dive due to the thinness of his blood on the medication). All thoughts and comments welcome, hopefully from several of you who have been there before..... A & R  <You will find many snorkeling outfits that in Fiji that will be able to give you good advice for where to snorkel. As for picking your own rock... it may be possible with a lot of planning, but may not save much money and probably isn't worth the hassle. Best Regards. AdamC.>

Wet/Dry Filter question follow up 3/30/05 Oh, one more question. How do I tell how much live rock I need? <The general rule is 1-2lb per gallon of tank volume, but I prefer to say about 1/3 of the volume. Better quality rock like Kaelini or Marshall Islands is more porous (so you need less) than Fiji or Caribbean.> Just what will fit in the wet/dry filter? And, my wet/dry has three compartments. Do they all get rock? Or, just where the bioballs go?? Sorry, and thanks!! <I would actually put the rock in the display rather than in the sump. It doesn't matter where in the system the rock is placed, it will function the same, so you might as well get the aesthetic benefit of having it in the tank. The wet/dry can be converted to an empty sump, refugium, etc. Best Regards! AdamC.>

Wet/Dry Filter question follow up 3/30/05 Okay, do you know of a good place online to get the live rock? How do cycle the live rock? Thanks a bunch!! Kim <You will have to shop around for the live rock, it is a competitive market, but I like Premium Aquatics and Inland Aquatics. Also, do give your local fish store a shot at coming close to the online price. Often, if you agree to buy whole unopened boxes of rock, you will get a significant discount from regular retail. As for cycling the rock, there is info on WWM on this, but briefly... Place the rock in a large tub with a heater and skimmer if you can. Be sure to provide plenty of water movement and change at least 20% of the water per week. Monitor Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate. Once Nitrite has spiked and returned to zero, you can add it to your tank. Best Regards. AdamC.>

- Reviving Live Rock - First, I'd just like to say how helpful your website has been over the past year and a half. You guys are awesome.  I have a 30 gallon reef aquarium which I set up about a year and a half ago. I use a protein skimmer which does a great job and I have a heavy duty power head at one end and an in tank canister filter (Fluval plus 4, I think) at the other. When I started it I put in 50 lbs of Fiji live rock or so and have been slowly adding creatures ever since and until recently everything was hunky dory. Currently living in the tank are some candy cane corals, a toadstool leather coral, about a million xenias (they spread like wildfire), a bubble tip anemone, 2 ocellaris clownfish, 1 yellow tang, a blood shrimp and various snails and hermit crabs. The problems occurred when I was forced to move to another city. The main problems are that my anemone, which would take over half the tank in its heyday is now always shriveled and sad looking and that there is an enormous amount of slime algae (red, green and brown). At first I thought maybe the water quality in the new location was much lower (which it is) and this was causing problems, so I've since started buying distilled water. This appeared to help some things (once I figured out that I needed to add a lot more calcium and buffer with distilled water) and the anemone is a lot less sad (though nowhere near when he was huge and friendly) but there is still a lot of slime algae.  <Give it time.>  And I've noticed that I only see bristleworms very rarely these days. Also, it used to be that there'd be amphipods and other little crawly things all over the place whenever I cleaned the filter sponges but now I never see more than a few.  <Your system has yet to re-establish itself. If the rock wasn't dry for too long, then it will recover in a couple of months.> I do regular water changes and test for ammonia and so forth so I'm pretty sure it's not a chemical imbalance at this time. But after reading a lot about all these things, I'm pretty sure that when I moved I killed off a lot of the small stuff that was living in the rocks and sand.  <Yup.>  It's been a few months since I moved it and they don't seem to be coming back. So my question is: does it seem like a good idea to add fresh live rock/sand to the tank to try to replenish these organisms?  <Wouldn't hurt, but keep in mind that any rock you add better be well cured ahead of time. But still... live rock is shipped into this country dry, and often stays dry for many days - I'm pretty sure your rock will recover in time, but does take many months.>  Or is there something else I haven't thought about? If I should be trying to add fresh live rock/sand, how should I go about this so as not to kill everything in my already established tank with the waste products from die off of the new stuff?  <Just cure any new live rock in a Rubbermaid bin, with a skimmer if you have a spare, and add only cured rock to your system.> Thanks a lot. Colin L. <Cheers, J -- > 

Live Rock- Re-use, Recycle 3.15.05 I was recently given some old live rock by a friend. The rock has been out of water and dry for several years. Is it possible, or advisable to reuse it. If so, what do I need to do to make it safe? I really just want is as structure. It is about 10 lbs. worth of rock. <The rock will be a great addition to your aquarium, and beneficial bacteria will colonize the hollow rock structure quickly for a biological filter. If you want to speed this process, and add some beautiful colorful algae to the mix, add a few rocks that are ripe with age. Good luck, Ryan>

Patience with live rock 3/12/05 I apologize for the frequent questions, but I spend hours reading the messages on this site, and constantly have new questions. Unfortunately, the questions I cannot find the answers to always come right after I have already sent you a message, but I don't really have anyone else to ask. <do have patience my friend... there is no need for immediate gratification while reading/learning. Stay in motion (learning/reading) and much of it will come to you in time. There are also some fab message boards for online communities to get a consensus of opinion, rather than one man or woman's opinions as with our crew. Best of all... do seek a regional aquarium club. They are the single best place for such info: free and objective. Go to MASNA.org and e-mail them a request for a list of the closest clubs to your home city> I keep reading how worms, anemones, snails, and other inverts. appear on the live rock they purchase. I have had my live rock for about a week now, and the only things I can see on it is lots of algae. When will these things start appearing in my tank (if they will)? <good heaven's... you must wait longer than a week! Some take many months to establish and grow in population. Many never will if you make the mistake of stocking a tank too early with fishes (best to wait some months fishless and add only inverts> Also, since I put the rock in, I have notice[d] pods crawling on my glass, but I have only seen about 4. Are there any tricks I can use to multiply my pod population? <do read/research refugiums> I don't have a refugium at this time. Is there a way to make one, without having to buy one (I have read of a few homemade ones made from containers and such. <yes... easily done... keep reading and "Google" searching. A wonderful tool/resource> Thanks again, you will hear from me again soon, I'm sure, I hope its not annoying, Mike <we may need to eventually employ you as a volunteer to earn your keep <G>. Anthony> <Only if he starts using proper punctuation and capitalization! M.>

Live Rock and Compatibility Questions Hey Crew, I just came back from a long vacation to notice my tank was covered from bottom to top in algae and that my 1 of my filters was not working and the powerhead was also not working in my 75 gallon tank. <Yikes, no fun> The person that was watching my fish must have overfed to of caused these algae growth problems. First off, I have a lot of live rock in my tank with a reticularis puffer, percula, yellow tang and 2 damsels. I did massive water changes and took all of the live rock out of the tank for now since the algae was beyond hope and got the tank back up again. However, I like the setup a lot more without the live rock in there and was wondering if it would be possible to keep the live rock out of there for good now so it is just the fish and the sand. But will it be too dramatic for the fish since most of them have had the live rock in the tank for almost 2 years now and there is no where to hide. Can they get used to this setup or is it to overwhelming for them? <Would be better to have the LR... could you add a sump, place it there?> Also in a few weeks when things start to calm down, I plan on adding a new addition to the tank, can you recommend one for me? I was thinking maybe a healthy trigger or butterfly but I am open to any suggestions. Thanks P.S. I know that in the future the puffer could reach sizes up to 2 feet(!) and will need a tank upgrade but I shouldn't need to worry about that for at least 2 years since he isn't any where near that size yet. <Please read through WWM re selection of livestock... I would not add much here... your tank is already about full physiologically and psychologically. Bob Fenner> 

- How much is too much (Live Rock)? - <Hello> I am converting my 55 gal, fish only tank, to a reef tank. How much live rock do I need? <I personally recommend around 1 to 1.5 pounds per gallon of water in the tank up to 2 pounds if it is only going to house smaller fish. Do make sure to leave enough water in the tank for the fish though hehe. Good Luck.> <Justin (Jager)>

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

Live Rock Bob and crew; First an update for James; My QT'ed Perc's are doing well still, and behaving normally once again. (A night's sleep lost was such a small price to pay for catching it (whatever it was) early enough.) No luck on finding Selcon thus far, but have some vitamin supplements for food on order. Been treating it with garlic, so we'll see how it goes.  <Good> Now, on to my next question.... I'm in the process of upgrading tanks (35 gallon), and have been looking into the possibility of adding some live rock. I don't want to stop running my filter or anything like that, so I guess it's just for aesthetic value. This being said, is it absolutely necessary for me to follow the guidelines of 1-2lbs per gallon?  <No, unless the rock is going to be the sole bio-filter.>  Next... I've read through the FAQ's about LR, and have seen that simply setting the rock on the substrate (I currently have about 2?" - 3" of crushed coral) is a big no-no due to the accidents it could cause. My question is this: Would it be okay for me to set a few larger pieces of rock on the tank bottom and just have my substrate surround it, or would this have a detrimental effect on growth?  <I strategically place my rock on the substrate and stack it up, checking each piece as I go, for stability.> Lastly (sorry for this being so long... I know you're all very busy) the FAQ's on lighting have suggested to me that my standard aquarium lighting (36" fluorescent w/ 25W bulb) 'should' be sufficient. Have I misinterpreted? If so, how much more lighting is needed?  <If the tank is just going to be for fish and live rock with no light loving inverts on the rock, the light will be fine. For corals, we are looking at 4 to 6 watts per gallon (on average), depending on the types of corals one wants to keep.> Thanks for all your time and efforts. <You're welcome, Tom> 

Bringing Inert Rock Back To Life! Thanks in Advance, <You're quite welcome!> I'm in the process of cycling a brand new tank and I just inherit about 50 lbs of Live Rock that has been sitting in my brothers garage for 2 years.  Should I even think of using these rocks in my new tank.  If so, what steps should I be using to revive these rocks. <Well, the first consideration when using rock that has been in a garage is whether or not it has been contaminated by household chemicals, etc., rendering it a potential source of toxic substances! Once you've determined that this is not the case, it's a relatively simple matter to turn "inert" rock into "live" rock. Remember that almost any "dead" rock will become "live", given time and placement in an appropriate system, where it can "recruit" life forms to develop biodiversity. You start by giving the rock a thorough rinsing in freshwater, followed by a little time in the sun, and maybe another good rinse. Then, you can introduce the rock to a container of suitable size, filled with saltwater from an established system, and some good water movement and a heater. "Seed" the rock with some established rock, sand, and/or detritus from an established system, change water regularly, scrape off any excess algae growth, supplement with calcium if necessary to generate coralline growth, give it time and a little patience, and you'll end up with "live" rock that you'll enjoy having in your tank! There are a number of other ways to accomplish this, but this is more-or-less the technique that I have used in the past with great success. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Live Rock, Filter Media and Dottyback 2/11/05 Hi, I have a number of questions that I could not find answers for. I hope it's not too much trouble.  <No trouble at all!> 1st question (Live Rock): I have been reading on the site that live rock can be used instead of biological filter media and it will do the same job.  <I disagree. In my opinion, live rock SHOULD be used for biological filtration and will do a much BETTER job. Also, compared to the cost of canister filters, etc., it is a bargain.> Does the live rock have to be changed and how often?  <Not in a properly maintained tank.> Does it get cloaked like filter media?  <No.> Does the amount of LR required per gallon of water include the LR in ones main tank?  <Be careful of outdated recommendations. With high quality, open structured, porous live rock, as little as 1/2 pound per gallon is adequate. It does not matter what part of the system it is in, although it looks better in the main tank! If you use aquacultured rock from Florida, count on 1-1.5 pounds per gallon since it is MUCH more dense.> 2nd question (laver rock): Can one use for example laver rock or any other rock that is pores with or without LR? If yes what percentage of laver rock and LR?  <I am guessing you mean "Lava Rock". I would not advise it. It is likely to contain metals and other contaminants. You can safely use limestone rock as well as homemade "rocks" made from Portland cement and calcareous aggregate (oyster shells, Puka shells, crushed coral are all popular).> 3rd question (filter media): Manufactures normally claim that their product covers X amount of surface water. How does one calculate the surface area that any filter media will cover?  <Good question! I am not sure how this is calculated, but since you are going to use live rock ;-), it doesn't matter!> Can any thing that's nontoxic and pores be used as filter media? <Yes, but be cautious of what you consider non-toxic! Items made for other purposes may be contaminated with oils, anti-bacterial coatings, etc.> 4th question (dotty back): I will like to breed the Pseudochromis fridmani. How does one identify a male and female of the Pseudochromis fridmani? How do people pair them for breeding?  <I am not sure of the sexing of Dottybacks, but if you are interested in pursuing this, you must find a copy of "Breeding the Orchid Dottyback" by Martin Moe. If you have not bred marine fish before, you may consider getting your feet wet with Banggai Cardinals or clownfish. Both are easier to breed. Good luck! AdamC.>

Live Rock Date: Tue, 8 Feb 2005 I recently upgraded my previously dreadful lighting on my 55 gallon fish w/live rock tank. The tank is 48 inches long, about 18 inches deep, possibly less. I now have 260 watts total (using a 220 watt Jebo light, which has 2x55 watt blue actinic and 2 x 55 watt 10,000k daylight, and also a standard 40 watt 50/50 bulb fixture as an extra, for the total of 260 watts). I also just added about 10 lbs of Fiji live rock, and I want to do everything I can to optimize conditions for the live rock. I read one of your responses to another question, indicating that Calcium should be 300 - 500 ppm... <I like 380-420>  ... and alkalinity at 5 meq.<5 meq/l is pretty high. I like 3-4 meq/l.> However, that was in response to someone who was in the process of curing his live rock. Would the same parameters apply to already cured rock?  <Yes>  Also, I have been adding Aragamilk 2 - 3 times/week at the dosage recommended on the product (1 drop for every 2 gallons of water), and I've been leaving the lights on for 11 - 12 hours/day. <You do NOT want to leave lights on while curing rock. The die off creates such a high level of waste that with lighting being on you will have nuisance algae galore.>  Is the Aragamilk any good?  <Can't say, never used it. Keep checking your calcium and if the dosage gives you the level your looking for, then OK.>  Would you be kind enough to give me your thoughts on whether I have enough/proper light... <Your light is adequate for live rock.>  ... and what other additives I could/should use? <You really need no other additives. Do a 10% water change weekly to supplement lost trace elements.>  Temp is a constant 79 degrees, SG is at 1.021.  <I like 1.023-024>  The tank has a bi-color Pseudochromis, 3 damsels, a small red Coris wrasse, and an algae blenny, with a feather duster and a couple of hermit crabs.  They all seem to be doing well at this point. Thanks for all your help.  <You're welcome and good luck with the rock. James (Salty Dog)>

Did I kill my Live Rock? Guys, <Gary>             Hello. While I was away for the week I lost aeration to one of my 50-gallon bins and the LR that was curing turned black and I need to know if there is any way I can save the LR or is it a loss? Thanks, Gary. <Take it out, rinse it off... with good pressure from your garden hose or utility sink (yes, freshwater), and place back in newly made up seawater... very likely worth salvaging what you can... use if for nothing else, base rock with some new/er rock on top... will inoculate the rest. Bob Fenner> Re: Lighting, skimmer Thanks Bob, as always. Two follow up questions on lighting if you don't mind, and one on protein skimmer. First, you're the first person to tell me that all live rock eventually dies off. <Mmm, "all things must pass"... and equivalent statements from many aspects, fields of study, philosophy... specifically, with LR here, there is an average/intuitive time in which one is better off augmenting "old" rock with new... this is gone over on WWM, but about a year and a quarter into set-ups... a part...> The LFS guys tell me it lasts years. <Mmm, you will see, there is the above stated time frame in which too much diversity, abundance of life is lost, alkaline reserve too exhausted... crash/mysterious losses occur...> If I increase the lighting, say to 150 - 200 watts or more, and increase SG, what would you say I can expect in terms of how long the live rock will last? <Mmm, double?> How often would I need to replace it? <... Please read on WWM> Second, I don't have the finances to buy a completely new hood/canopy and expensive lighting system. Can I simply replace what I have and go with a perfecto glass cover, and place a Jebo 48 inch high compact on top? <Likely an option, or other retrofit> I know nothing about the Jebo, but I see them on eBay frequently. It uses two 10,000k daylight bulbs and two 10,000 actinic bulbs. On eBay, it looks like I can get a new one of these for a relatively low price. Finally, the crew at wetwebmedia has recommended the AquaC hang on protein skimmer, which seems to be a great unit. The problem is it's price tag of about $160. Are their any other slim hang on models that are efficient and quiet, but might cost less? <None that I know of, can endorse... this is "about it"> Thanks again for all of your time and expert advice. No matter how much I read in the so-called authoritative books, you and the crew always seem to give the best, easy to understand responses. You guys are great. <Do read over the archived materials my friend... much easier, cheaper than personal experience. Bob Fenner> 

QTing new live rock, yes 1/22/05 Yes, thanks for the advice about QTing the live rock also. I guess this detail slipped my mind, or never stuck in my mind, because I bought all my rock at the initial set up.  <understood. But do simply remember that everything wet without exception (LR, algae, snails, corals, sand, fish, etc) gets QT> I have been diligent about QTing the cleaning crews and the few fish I've added, but never thought of this.  <no worries> Now I know for sure, why I saw ick on my Fridmani's Pseudochromis last night <OK... small worry <G>> ..and spent most of the day setting up QT, tweaking temp & pH, and tearing all the rock out of my system so I could catch my fish. They all seemed to have faired well with their fresh water dip and transfer to QT. Hopefully this course of treatment will work the first time. Thanks, Sher H. <wishing you the very best of luck! Anthony>

When to add live rock Hi to you all! Thanks so much for answering all my previous questions, there is such a minefield of information in this hobby, I never know what's right/wrong!!! < Neither do I.  I just pretend I do. > My tank has been cycling for 28 days now.  There is nothing living in the tank yet, all dead rock & dead sand & dead rock.  I used Biomature (liquid ammonia) to introduce waste into the system and initiate the cycling process. < This really won't cycle until you really get living organisms in there. > My ammonia peaked at 5ppm and dropped to 0ppm within 14 days. My nitrite level has peaked and is on the way down but has been lingering at 0.8ppm for a couple of days now. I'm currently using a canister filter & internal filter on the tank I want to add some cured LR(10kg), from my very LFS, the rock has been fully cured in a tank for over a month and is now stable.  My tank size is 46 gallons and I am planning to add 20kg of cured LR to replace the filters over the next 12 weeks (I can't afford it all at once!).  My question is, Can I add the cured LR now with a nitrite reading of 0.8ppm?? < Absolutely.  It will rise again, but there is no reason to wait before adding live rock.  You can add it the first day. > or will this kill some of the life on the rock. My theory is that since the LR is now stable and obviously has beneficial microbes living on and within it, that it will help the stubborn nitrite level in my tank to drop to 0ppm.  < Indeed it will.  First it may cause another spike, but it will certainly help bring it back down. > Is this theory correct?? or will the aerobic microbes die-off during a 30min drive from the LFS??? Thanks very much for your time. <  Good luck. > All the best Dave <  Blundell  >

Adding live rock Hi Thanks for the reply.  Well I put 10lbs (5kgs) of cured LR in today. The LFS was very against it, said that I could kill the LR with the current nitrite reading of 0.8mg/l. I hope he's wrong or I've just wasted a load of cash. He also said not to turn my skimmer on and to keep the lights off, what do you think, < Skimmer on and lights on. > should I be skimming and have 12hrs per day of lights?? < Yes. > The rock is already cured. He also told me that it wouldn't reduce the nitrite level. < Well it will reduce it in the end. That is the purpose of live rock, to keep that cycle going and to reduce nitrite to 0. It will have a little die off, but not much if it is already cured. > Help keep me right please! Thanks for your time in helping a confused newbie. Cheers,  Dave < Blundell > 

Live Rock Feeding? Hi! I recently bought 2 lbs. of live rock at a pet store for my 15 gal. saltwater tank. I saw that there were a whole lot of little creatures ( sea anemones, feather dusters, etc.) that were on the live rock. What I am wondering is if they need any special care such as any supplements or special lighting. Thanks for your time! >Greetings, Lighting is not an issue, but many of the sessile inverts will appreciate regular phytoplankton feedings. These critters include but are not limited to, feather duster worms and sponges. If you do have any live anemones on your rock, they are in all likelihood pest species, and should be removed. Good luck Jim< Addition of Live Rock? 8/11/05 Hello Crew, <<Hello Ethan, Ted on this end>> Let me start off by thanking you again for all the help to date. You have been a great source of knowledge for a novice marine aquarist. Thank you! <<You're welcome>> In my 120g tank (which is almost 8 months old) I have started to add a few corals (leather, polyp and mushroom) I want to start to build up my live rock arrangement so that I can create a setting so the corals are closer to my light source and so I can create more of a reef. I have about 90-100lbs of live rock, if I want to add more, how much can I add and should I quarantine the live rock like I have been my new fish?<<Recommendations on how much LR to use in a system range from about 1lb/gallon to 2lbs/gallon (or more) depending on rock density and other factors. IMO, adding 60lbs of LR to your system would not be excessive. If you are buying the rock all at once, I would cure the new rock prior to placing into your tank to minimize the effects of the cycling the new rock will cause. Alternately, you could add small amounts at a time, say a week or so apart. Please read more about LR at this two links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm>> Thank you, Dr E <<You're welcome and good luck - Ted>>

Nitrates We have a 75 gallon salt tank that we have never been able to get the Nitrates down to a reasonable level on. They are always around 80 or higher even with water changes, a protein skimmer and 2 filtration systems. We did take the bio balls out of the one system on the advice of a student in marine biology. We have 4 fish in the tank. A sail fin tang, yellow tang, a damsel and a sand sifter goby. Also a snail. We have about 40 lbs of live rock. Any suggestions?  Susan <<Greetings, Susan. My suggestion would be to double your quantity of live rock, and if possible triple it and jam the excess into your sump. Live rock is probably the best solution out there for natural nitrate reduction. Cheers, J -->> Copper/Live Rock Questions Hey guys, <<And hello to you...>> I understand that copper should not be run with live rock, unless you don't mind bleached rock. :)  <<oh... there's more to it than just that.>>  If copper was run with live rock, would the rock still be a good source of biological filtration?  <<No, the rock absorbs the copper so two things happen, one your doses for treatment will be reduced and two, the rock will forever leach copper back into the system. It would be useless as a biological filter after that.>> Or would it lose this capability? Would the rock ever come back to life? <<Doubtful.>>  Most important question I have is, when copper is run with live rock, does the rock become 'uncured'?, i.e, that beautiful brown, smelly, rock?  <<It becomes dead.>> I also understand that I would have to rebuild my tank if I planned on deploying a reef.  <<eh?>>  That's fine, I never plan on having a reef.  <<copper will reek havoc on inverts, it's true. But sustained exposure to copper isn't any good for fish either - copper is toxic.>>  I'm a fish person and do not plan on keeping them exposed to copper to long.  <<Best to do this is in a separate tank, away from the main display for the reasons previously noted.>>  Thanks. <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Copper/Live Rock Questions Response to last e-mail: I have only treated once, 125 gallon tank, 80 pounds of live rock, 12 ML of Cupramine. Will this seriously affect the rock?  <<Hmmm... good question - hard to say, probably not... seems like in those volumes, the amount remaining/bound-up would be trace amounts.>> My situation: Thanks for your quick responses. You guys are great. I totally understand where you are coming from, but this ICH problem is driving me 'nuts'. I haven't lost any fish yet, but obviously want to rid the tank of it. I've tried FW dips, placing the infected fish in a quarantine tank w/copper for 14 days, and it keeps coming back. I understand that it may be a good idea to let the tank sit without any fish for 4-6, maybe even 8 weeks, but my quarantine tank is only 25 gallons and I really do not want to place 2 triggers, 1 tang and 1 puffer in it.  <<Well... if you consider the size of the aggravation, and all your other options, it might be worth the money to invest in a couple of 10's and 20's and have full quarantine so you can fallow your tank... this may be your best choice at this point.>>  I believe the ammonia will shoot up and kill them all.  <<All the more reason for individual quarantine and diligent water changes.>>  I own a clown trigger, which is very rare here in Toronto, Canada, and really don't want to lose him. Maybe this will help you understand where I'm coming from in regards to my 'nuke the tank' attitude.  <<I still don't think it's a good plan - fallow would be much better, perhaps work with a local fish store to help house some of these fish while you ride out the six weeks.>>  Thanks for all your help. Talk to you soon. P <<Cheers, J -- >>

Re: Copper/Live Rock Questions Your comment on live rock being a useless biological filtration after copper treatment method is not correct according to a question that was answered on your website.  <<I'm sorry, that was my personal opinion and not a verbatim copy and paste.>>  I remember Bob Fenner telling a fellow aquarist that you shouldn't treat a tank with live rock with copper, but it all depended on why you purchased the live rock in the first place. If it was to deploy a reef in the future, then definitely no copper, but if you just used the live rock as a biological filtration method, it was fine.  <<Well, you made me go back and read pages of Bob's replies to questions like this, and the majority has it that copper will be absorbed by the rock. It is certainly possible that this residual amount of copper could cause no effect to a biological filter, but how can you be sure? If you want to know if I would put rock that had been soaking in copper treated water into either of my tanks, reef or fish only, the answer is no.>>  Also, if a tank was treated with copper, how long would it take for all the rock to die?  <<Depends on the amount of copper in the tank, size of the dose. Perhaps a couple of days to a week? Never tried... I always treat with copper in separate tanks set aside for only this use. I treat it like it was plutonium. Cheers, J -- >>

Live rock Good evening fellas. First off, I just wanted to give my thanks to Steven for the advice on cleaning my skimmer the other day and also the fast response (within 5 minutes). I thought it was the PolyFilters that were causing my skimmer to not perform as usual, but after a good cleaning and flushing with very hot water, its as good as new. <Glad to hear it.> I think its amazing on how you guys give such good advice on very basic info provided to you (in my case anyway). <Having done this for many years helps.> I have decided to order some liverock today and got some troubling info from my LFS. He told me I am asking for nothing but trouble by adding the live rock. <He is right, not to add directly into your tank. All shipped rock, regardless of claims, should be cured in a separate vessel.> He told me I will be battling ick because the Fiji rock I ordered was only 100 dollars for 45lbs and that it would be garbage rock. <Strange reasoning. If cured in a separate vessel for one month (a standard amount of time required to fully cure liverock), guess what. The rock has also been quarantined without host fish. No Ich should be present.> I ordered it from Dr. Foster & Smith Pet Warehouse, I've never ordered anything like that from them before but I know they are a reputable dealer. He just wants me to buy the same rock from him at 6 dollars a pound. <Not really the same rock. LFS's generally sell fully cured liverock. No shipped rock can be considered fully cured.> I think these claims are totally crazy. From the info provided on this site I think I know how to go about curing the rock, if you could please just help me with a few things. By the way the tank is a 125 gal FO and hopefully real soon FOWLR with 6 fish, yellow tang, Naso tang, Volitans lion, Niger trigger, wolf eel, and gray angel. All are in the 3" to 5" range. I now know from CMA and this website that I could have made better choices and that these fish will all outgrow the tank with the exception of the yellow tang and possibly the wolf eel. <Agreed> I hate to admit this but I didn't expect the fish to live long enough to out grow the tank. All are doing well and have noticeable growth. The reason I say the above I remember my dad keeping fish about 10-12 years ago and getting a new, beautiful fish and to see it parish in only a few months. Just to mention, none of them were QT. <This reminds me of one of Anthony's favorite saying, "even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally. Always better, safer, and less expensive to quarantine all new stock.> It has been 9 months now since my first fish and thanks to you guys they are all surviving and doing well. Sorry, back to the rock. I have standing by a set of pc's at 110 watts each, during curing I was going to place one over the tote with the rock for about 12 hrs/day, is this alright? <I believe me are divided on this subject and I go back and forth. It really depends on the rock. If it is nasty, you will get a lot of die off and subsequent nutrients. This could fuel nuisance algae if lighted. If the rock is reasonably clean, lighting it should be fine. If you want to be safe, do not light the curing rock.> Do I also want to supplement calcium if it drops below 400 during the curing process? <More important things to worry about, IMO, pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, etc.> Should I use fresh salt water or existing water from the tank for curing? <Existing> I realize for the coralline growth alk, calcium and pH should be high but is there anything else I should supplement for the rock, I heard about using strontium and iodine? <I would not worry about it.> After curing I would like to add it slowly, about 5lbs every other day or am I safe placing it all if there is no ammonia/nitrite? <You can place it all providing ammonia and nitrite are both zero and have been that way for a week or more.> Lastly, the original lighting on the tank is only 4 15 watt fluorescents. Will putting the PC's at 220 watts be too much of a change for the fish? <For fish-only, I would not worry. If anything, just turn on half the lights for two weeks and then the other set.> I remember reading here that you can use a mesh/screen like material in layers and slowly remove some layers over a week so the fish can get accustomed to the change in light. <This protocol was for photosynthetic plants and animals.> As always, thanks Mike <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

White spots on live rock I have a 55gal Reef that has been setup for about 7 weeks. I'm getting these white spots (about the of a sweet pea) and in a few spots the size of a quarter...it's beginning to look like a bad thing. Any idea? <bleaching corallines if it is simply a color change (caused by stress of import or low calcium in your tank... do test for calcium and add if necessary)... OR, decay from rotting plants/algae (obvious on inspection. Anthony>

Live Rock, heat of the season Hello, Quick question I had last night new LR .(You know its summer and the weather is hot) so when the LR (fresh) arrived it was hot .Is that ok? I place it in my tank to cure it and I test for ammonia few hours later .The ammonia was zero.  <<Well, in the perfect world heating up the live rock during shipping is not the most desirable situation in the world. That being said, it is quite common for entire reef flats to become exposed by low tide and cook in the sun for several hours... and as your tests have shown, often nothing bad comes from this kind of exposure. You could test a couple more days for ammonia if you are nervous, but I think all is likely fine. Cheers, J -->>

Pest Problem? Thanks for the advice the other week on cycling of my tank Bob. I have one more question. It seems the cycling is progressing - up to nitrite now. The problem is I seem to have an infestation of pin head or smaller sized white creatures jumping all over the live rock. What are they and how do I get rid of them. <They are amphipods or copepods and you do not want to get rid of them. They are an excellent natural food.> Currently there is only live rock in the tank. I am assuming they arrived with it. They seem to stick quite close to it and also on the glass. Many Thanks, Brett Moloney Brisbane, Australia <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Upgrading from 46 gallon to ? VI Last question - for today ;) When I migrate from the 46 to the 75 gallon, what we've decided on & ordered, I know I can migrate my existing live rock to the new tank no problem. I have like 10 pounds. I'd like to add more live rock. <And I would strongly encourage you to do so.> I'm looking for a nice "aquascape" background - similar to how the reef's look like. Since I am going to be using about 40 gallons of existing water, adding an addition 25-30 gallons, using existing gravel, etc.. and using my existing canister filter for the first week or so - will I be ok adding a lot more live rock (cured)? <Yes, if fully cured. I would not trust that any rock that has to be shipped will not experience some additional die-off and need some more curing.> I don't think I have any choices - because those fishies will need to get in that new tank ASAP. ~Bill <No worries. -Steven Pro

Creature ID Hi all, <<Greetings, Wes.>> I was hoping you might help me id a critter that came with my new Fiji live rock....let's see if I can describe this because I can't seem to get a decent picture of it....imagine a 1/3 inch, whitish, hollow cigar sticking straight off of the rock. It has a short stiff ring of "feathers" similar to a feather duster at the very top. The feathers do not retract. It's body (the tube) is quite fuzzy with single "hairs" protruding perpendicular from it's sides all around. Basically it looks like a small, but fat, fuzzy tube with hairs and a stiff crown of feathers. How's that? Need a picture? I will keep trying but my digital doesn't focus that close up... <<You are right, that's a toughie without a photo... did you try your luck here? http://www.tcnj.edu/~maughme2/faq.htm If you get a clear photo, send it along and I'll try again.>> Wes <<Cheers, J -- >>

Choosing Liverock Good day, Thank you for your feedback on all my previous questions. I placed an order for an AquaC Urchin this morning, as it looks like the best bet for my needs and limited space under my tank...a H.O.T. skimmer would look very ugly. I'm debating (while saving up, financially) whether to add Fiji or Florida aquacultured rock into my 55g tank. <I would choose the Fiji.> I like the decorative potential of the FL rock, but I understand that it would not be biologically beneficial as the Fiji. Would my fish (2 -3striped damsels, 2 yellow-tailed damsels, cinnamon clown, Kole tang, and yellow Sailfin tang) adjust to the FL rock? <Sure> Is there incompatibility issues with mixing half FL rock and half Fiji rock? <No, not really.> 55 lbs of FL live rock would not be enough support for my system to remove the bio-balls from the wet/dry filter, correct? <Definitely denser than the Fiji and less able to support a variety and amount of life.> Propagation questions: If I cut the mushroom (blue mushroom) will the cap form a new stalk, or does the stalk form a new cap? <Both> Can I place the cuttings in a small container in the tank, like a breeder box? <Better to place it in the same light and current area as the "parent." Deli style cups with bits of rock and sand work well for this.> Last question: Can you recommend a site that has pictures and descriptions of corals so that I can identify my stock and the stuff that is on my live rock? <Do look through our link page for possibilities. I strongly recommend Eric Borneman's book "Aquarium Corals."> Thank you (again), Randy M. Yniguez, MA <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Liverock: Dead or Not Hello My question is I have 100 pounds of live rock. When it was shipped to me at the airport the terminal it was closed for the night so I could not pick up till Monday morning. When I picked it up it was not shipped in water and was dry. <Normal for shipping liverock.> So my thoughts were it was dead. I bought it home and put it in my tank and let it cycle for a week then started adding fish my nitrates and ammonia were at 0. <Far better to wait at least one month to fully cure liverock before adding fish.> I then added two tangs big mistake they beat each other up. I removed them and let the tank sit. It has been sitting for about a month with no heat or water movement. I'm ready to give it another shot so I drained the tank and cleaned up the live rock. My question, is the live rock any good. <I do not know. Look it over for signs of life.> Can I add a couple of new pieces to bring back the old rock <Yes> or should I just start all over with new liverock? My set up is: 75 gallon tank 100 pounds of live rock wet/dry filter protein skimmer <Have a nice evening. -Steven Pro>

Liverock Question Hi Bob, I am fairly new to the hobby and have a 55 gallon tank that has been running for about a year. My question is that I bought about 25 lbs of live rock yesterday from a LFS and I asked them if it was ok to put directly in my tank right away they said yes it was already cured. After reading your articles on WetWebMedia on live rock today I question the LFS suggestion or should I say approval. My rock has a fair amount of stuff hanging off of it that I am not sure if its dead or alive. I am not a marine biologist and I am not sure what everything hanging off of it is, meaning good or bad. I think some of the things are sponges and the other thing that I noticed looks like pale lettuce. Should I pull the rock from my tank and scrub all the stuff off and recycle? I do not have an extra skimmer but I do have a spare 30 gallon tank that I store my water change mix in that is already up and running. Your comments or suggestions would be sincerely appreciated. <Check your ammonia and nitrite levels. If the rock is uncured or not fully cured, then you will see a rise in either of those two levels and you will have to remove the rock to a separate vessel. FYI, both ammonia and nitrite should be zero.> My tank setup is as follows: 55 Gallon Tank Seaclone skimmer All-Glass 2 x 55 pc hood Emperor 404 filter (2) powerheads Thanks, Jim <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Lace Rock I'll be moving my 65 gallon reef tank this Friday. Its about 1/3 to 1/2 full with live rock. I feeling more confident as the move date gets closer. Thanks for all the information in the LR FAQs! The local tropical fish store has suggested that I can add some lace rock to my existing live rock. I'm hesitant to add anything that's not calcium based and doesn't come from the ocean. What's your opinion on lace rock? ~Catherine <I would stick to liverock. -Steven Pro>

RE: calcium supplements Dear Bob, First of all, thanks for the quick reply! I was wondering why I would need to replace my old live rock, or how would/should I "renew" it? <The same action... to add biodiversity, more readily soluble biomineral and alkalinity... a good practice after most systems are about 1 1/2 years old... to change out, add to their LR... a good 25% or so> Also I am getting ready to set up a 55 gallon tank & am wondering if it would be better to use VHO or PC lighting? I intend to use this tank for culturing & growing out mushrooms, zoanthids, and other softies. <The PC is better, looks and function wise. Please read through the many marine lighting FAQs files here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm> I recently saw some PC systems by All Glass Aquarium at a pet supply warehouse here locally in Virginia Beach, VA. They are much cheaper than the competition- $120.00 for a 110 watt strip light, there bulbs are also much cheaper- $20.00- What do you think/know about this product?  <A good deal> Also how much lighting in watts should I use for this tank? <Again, please read through WWM on this issue> Last question, should I bother with a live sand bed in the new 55 gal system? How about adding LS to my existing reef? Is it worth the trouble? Thanking you in advance, Joshua Scialdone <See WWM... I would not spend money on LS per se... let the LR seed what you set up sterile. Bob Fenner>

New Liverock Came Shipped Chalky White Hello Mr. Fenner: <Steven Pro in today.> I have never written to you in the past and I spend at least 30 minutes a day reading all your great info on your website. I just have to say that I find WetWebMedia very informative. I just love it. I have your book and have pretty much read it over and over. It has helped me a lot. <From all of us, thank you for your praise. Be sure to tell your friends.> Now, here my question if I may. Is there a trick to getting the coralline algae on liverock to return? <No trick really. Maintain good levels of pH, alkalinity, and calcium levels and supply adequate lighting.> This rock is brand new to my tank. I purchased it from an online dealer (Aquacon). It is Tonga branch and Hapai, 50 pounds total and has been in my system for three days. It is as white as white could be, but, I thought I was getting mostly red coralline covered rock. The rock was shipped this way. This stuff is expensive! <Sorry to hear about your bad experience. Will make a mental note for myself and I am sure many of our readers will do the same.> My system has been up and running for 7 months now with 40 to 50 pounds of liverock purchased locally. Now, my system is a 75 gal tank with an Eheim wet/dry canister, magnum 350 canister, Marineland emperor penguin 400, two power heads and a prism skimmer (most of the filters were on this tank when it was a freshwater setup). My water readings are pretty good. Salinity 1.025, pH 8.3, alkalinity normal to high (the test I have only shows a color chart no numbers), calcium 450, and I add trace elements, CombiSan once a week and Iodine drops once a week. My lighting is a Phazer compact pendant light with two 55 watt 10,000k ultra daylight bulbs and two 55 watt actinic blue bulbs with a grand total of 220 watts. Critters are as follows 1 Kole tang, 1 yellow Coris wrasse, 1 yellow tail damsel, 1 Foxface Rabbitfish, and 1 spunky coral beauty angel. I also have various cleanup critters red hermits, blue hermits, turbo snails, sally lightfoot crab and a emerald green crab. Then there are the hitchhikers on the previous liverock. Will this liverock regain its color or always remain chalk white? <In time, yes.> What can I do to bring it back? <Along with the items noted above, patience.> Thanks so much for your help. Sherry Spitz <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Curing Live Rock Bob (or whomever may be playing proxy), <Steven Pro right now.> I have read all the FAQs on curing live rock but had a hard time finding the complete process start to finish. and wanted to make sure I got things right. I'm purchasing my first round of live rock for an existing 75gal fish only and want to get it right. I'll try and make this as painless as possible. and hopefully help others who are searching for the whole process. 1. Live rock should be (re)cured regardless? (true/false) <True> 2. Rinse the live rock with STRONG jet of water and remove all visible "stuff" upon first bringing it home (few minutes)? Scrub it with plastic brush? Fresh water ok? Temperature doesn't mater? <I would prefer to get a bucket of aged saltwater and dip each piece giving it a good shake to rinse out sand, detritus, etc.> 3. Place rock into separate vessel (Rubbermaid bin) and suspend it off the bottom with a crate? <Yes> 4. Fill with saltwater? Spg same as display tank? Use water from existing tank? <Yes, yes, and yes.> 5. Use a heater at the same temp as the display tank? <Yes> 6. Use aggressive skimming throughout process? <Of course.> 7. You (Bob) prefer cycled lighting? Is outside sunlight ok without artificial lighting (I live in San Diego too)? <I go back and forth on this point. IMO, it depends on the rock. If really nasty and would keep minimally lit to avoid algae blooms. If pretty clean, light would be fine. Sunlight is the best for liverock and particularly corals. Anthony's greenhouse was spectacular.> 8. Watch ammonia and nitrite, if either exceed 1ppm do a water change? <Sure, perhaps even when either is lower or when nitrate gets above 20 ppm.> 9. When adding to tank, add only small amounts (few lbs) at a time separated by 1-2 days? <If fully cured, one month or more in a separate vessel and no discernable ammonia or nitrite, you can add it all.> And I almost forgot the most important (duhh). AGGRESSIVE circulating during the process. <Yes, very important.> Thank you for your help (as always), Mark <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Artificial liverock Hello Anthony/Steve/Bob. First off, thank you very much for your lightning-quick response to my previous question about invert/shark/lionfish compatibility. <always welcome, my friend. Anthony Calfo up with the owls and bats tonight> I have been looking into homemade cement/aragonite "rocks" for use as base-rock in my saltwater tanks.  <really a dreadful practice in my opinion for so many reasons... practicality, environmental impact, effectiveness in aquarium systems as a replacement for live rock> I live in Canada, and the price of live rock up here is very inhibitive.  <understood> It seems this could also dramatically reduce the rock taken from the world's oceans.  <not the correct reason for doing it my friend. Especially when looking to supplant the taking of a slowly renewable resource (live rock) with the use of a non-renewable resource (mined limestone from ancient reef formations used to make concrete). I assure you that the rock collected is a drop in the bucket and all is going to be harvested hell or high water anyway from Fiji as the Fijian government has run a subsidized program for many years to excavate live rock from targeted zones to expand the breadth and depth of their harbors to improve commerce. With or without the aquarium trade... this rock IS coming out of the water I assure you> The recipes I found all involved aragonite (or some other reef-safe sand) and Portland cement, cured in fresh water for 5-6 weeks.  <yes... dreadful. Laborious, dense by any measure, unnaturally unattractive, poorly diffusive for microfauna, etc> The question is: Do you see any real problems with the use of these in reef or fish-only set-ups?  <too many to begin to list here> I would love to be able to custom make my own rockwork, with as many nooks, crannies and caves as I want.  <then spend your time researching modern modern fiberglass and latex formations that have been refined to nearly a science for public aquaria. Even Walt Smith of has begun making and marketing such hollow and lightweight formations. Why don't you call or e-mail him (http://www.waltsmith.com ) in LA to see about the nearest and most affordable distributor of live rock to you... perhaps the fiberglass reef forms too> Also, are there any added complications involved if there is a bamboo shark and a lionfish in this system.  <Together they are reasonably compatible in a big enough tank. Keep in mind though that a Volitans lion approaches two foot as an adult and the bamboo shark approaches three foot. A serious tank is needed in the 3-5 year picture> Thank you again for all your help. Dan Buck <best regards, Anthony>

Live Rock & Angelfish Hey Guys, How is it going? <Pretty good. Hope all is well with you.> I have a question about the live rock in my tank. My tank has been set up for about two years now, with live sand and live rock. The live rock some how does not look live anymore, the purple coralline growth is not as lush as it once was. Although the tank up as a reef with live rock/sand, I have no corals. I keep angels in this set up. I also keep live rock in my sump instead of the bio balls. My question what should I do to see growth and life form from these rocks, is there something I can add to help or do I have to replace the rocks. I want to see stuff growing from the rocks, is this still achievable or do I have to start over. <Merely monitor and dose for calcium and alkalinity to encourage more coralline growth. I would wager that your angelfish are scourging the rock, too, hampering growth of all sorts of live creatures.> Also, I have a juvenile emperor angel that is changing over and I have a juvenile chrysurus (spelling probably not right) angel from Africa I was told, <Pretty close, Pomacanthus chrysurus, and it is found on the east coast of Africa. Sorry to say, an angelfish with a very mixed history, some report them as doing well others very poorly dying mysteriously in months.> it has similar coloration to emperor although much smaller. It is now in quarantine and can probably stay there for a while as it about 2 1/2 inches small, my question is if I decide to put it in the same tank as the emperor is it likely that the emperor would bother it because they are of the same coloration. <Very likely. Extremely likely. Not a wise choice.> I ask because I notice in my LFS angels with like colors are often separated. The tank is a 125 gallon with lots of caves and holes for hiding. Thanks for you help and keep up the good work. ~Gillian <You are welcome. Sorry for all the bad news. In the future, better to solicit this kind of information before the purchase. -Steven Pro>

Live Rock I am going to be setting up a 120 tank. My question is, would it be best to purchase 130 lbs. of live rock or can I purchase 65 lbs. of LR and 65 lbs. of Aragonite base rock?  <MUCH better to use all live rock... resist inverts and heavy lights for months if not to get bare/poor rock seeded well first> Will the algae and bacteria grow on to the base rock?  <yes... but it takes such a long time. Aquacultured rock folks need 14-36 months in the ocean to do this (with stable and available nutrients, calcium, etc!)... I hope you like Snickers bars!?!> Would you just recommend buying 130 lbs. of LR?  <heck ya!> I will also be putting a DSB in the tank. When buying LS, can I buy 30-40 lbs of LS and the rest just buy fine aquarium sand? <exactly... over 3" deep (preferably over 5") recommended> Your help is appreciated, Jesse <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Live Rock, Skimmer Functional Relationships Oh and Jason <Anthony again> Is it true that if you have live rock in a fish tank only, you don't need a protein skimmer. <wow... not even close to being true as they have little or nothing to do with each other functionally. Whoever told you this was SERIOUSLY mistaken and in need of some basic books on marine aquariology. I pray that they are not in the aquarium business. Skimmers are even more crucial to run full time on tanks with messy feeding fish like puffers. They export nutrients before they can degrade into harmful byproducts. I personally would not want to do all of the extra water changes needed for such a tank without a skimmer. Please do read more in the WWM archives about the merits of live rock and skimmers and their respective features> Thanks, Wendy <best regards, Anthony>

Live rock health Hi! Many thanks for all the info and help your website! Also, my apologies if I overlooked this info on the site. I will soon be setting up a tank with live rock, some hardy fish, and some cleanup inverts. There will be no corals or anemones. I want to keep the live rock (that I'm going to be spending so much on!) in great condition. Are any kind of supplements necessary or recommended for keeping the rock and the myriad of life if holds healthy and happy? Since I am not going to have corals/anemones I do not know what is recommended. <A good idea to monitor and possibly adjust (if regular water changes don't accomplish this) pH, alkalinity and calcium content. Bob Fenner> Thanks again!!! Jeff

Live Rock Bleaching? Hello Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Sorry to bother again but I have a quick question. I have a 75 gallon with a 4 * 96 power compact retrofit. Is this too much light?  <depends on the inverts kept under it. But would be considered moderate lighting by reef tank standards> Can it be bleaching my live rock?  <not at all... more likely salinity shock, or low alkalinity (target 12dKH), low calcium (target 400ppm+ for rock/reefs). The only way that this or any lights could shock and bleach corallines is if you drop the water level (as with a water change) and leave your canopy lights blazing. In such cases you'll notice a perfect line where corallines bleach above the water level> All corals seem to be very happy but most of my live rock is turning white. Can it be my cleaning crew that is eating everything on the rock?  <also unlikely unless you have a lot of Chitons or some big Urchins (typically long spine)> Thanks! I really appreciate your help. <I'm betting on low alkalinity. Best regards, Anthony>

Live Rock Die Off Bob, (Gentlemen) <Hey, does this mean Steve and Antoine are gentlemen and I'm not? Or that I'm in a different category of gentleman, mmm?> Not sure if anybody has told you that you have a great site. <Not yet this AM!> I have a 55g marine setup 3mos old, 35#s of cured Live Rock, Fluval 404 (cleaned 2 times a week with aged water added each cleaning), Remora Pro(1wk old), 5g water change weekly aged water min 2 days). 7-8 Red Leg and Blue Leg crabs, 1 hard shell crab not sure of the name), seven snails, 1 Blue Headed Wrasse, 1 Banggai Cardinal, 1 Green Chromis, 1 Condylactis Anemone. Had an ich problem a month ago and used No-Ich (before I found your site and set up a 10g quarantine tank) but still lost three fish. <Rats!> My readings are ammonia 0 nitrite 0 PH 8.3 salinity 1.022 nitrate 2-5 temp 79f calcium 420 Lighting is a 48" double tube fluorescent 12 hrs a day. Algae has gone from heavy to light a couple of times. Minor hair algae problem in one corner, rebalanced water flow and it is clearing up. Now finally to the problem I think) I have noticed the last two days that some of the color is disappearing from the Live Rock and is turning a grayish color, I do not notice any extra live stock activity in these areas of the rock. I searched the web site and did not find any info about this type of problem. Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. <Hmm, gray? Might be a sort of succession with less than desirable organism groups taking over... I would do a few things here: re/direct some water flow with powerheads, pumps to/over the graying areas, check and bolster alkaline reserve (with testing, adding baking soda likely), possibly long-term plan to add to or switch out the present lighting for something more intense... Otherwise not worry. It is apparent you have a good "attitude" and aptitude for the hobby/tasks of stewardship. This "unfolding" in your system is natural, not immediate, dire. Bob Fenner>  Marty Finn 

New Setup Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service while Bob sits catatonic trying to find a happy place after a bizarre golf course accident with an amorous, stray Red Kangaroo while on holiday in Australia> I will be setting up a new 200 gallon 'fish only' salt water aquarium. I plan to keep a few tangs, a lrg. maroon clown, a Queen angel and a few Chromis. Previously I had a 72 Gallon tank with lots of live rock, both in the tank and in the sump, and usually about 5 medium sized fish.  <sounds quite nice> Over the course of 9 months I experienced many problems with the health of the fish, mostly ich, and suffered many losses from it. I tried everything, UV sterilizers, Protein skimmers, Reverse Osmosis Units, ich treatments, (M. green) and many water changes but ick would always come back even after many treatments.  <too bad we didn't speak earlier... you could have saved money, time and lives with an inexpensive quarantine tank that all new fish are run through and treated/screened for one full month before making it to the display> Aside from temperature fluctuations, (which I suspect may have been my biggest problem)  <with all due respect my friend... I agree: temperature fluctuations are an extraordinary catalyst for Ich. Why not better heaters or a chiller rather than all of the other money spent to treat the symptoms?> I was told that I should not use live rock in this new system since it is fish only system. Live rock can introduce many types of pathogens (which even lie dormant for a while in transport) and increase the risk in fish getting diseases.  <that is a gross misstatement and almost entirely fiction. Live rock is used by many merchants in fish holding systems to actually consume parasites with the microfauna of the live rock. Live rock is an incredible attribute to any marine system> It is also very difficult to treat the tank... cant use the more effective treatments like copper.  <true... but you shouldn't treat a display without live rock either... any calcareous media (sand, gravel, rocks, coral skeletons) will suck up copper like a hypoglycemic child in a candy store. All medication is to be done in a hospital tank which should rarely be necessary if the fishes are properly screened with a one month quarantine before entering the tank on arrival> I was using a lot of live rock for the filtration since I thought it was the best form of filter media, (better that Bioball media) .  <totally agreed!> If not live rock, can I at least use live sand? Does live sand carry pathogens?  <same story as live rock... also very good but better at denitrification (nitrate reduction)> I was also told to upgrade to a much larger system where fish can better adjust to any environmental change, (ph, salinity, temperature). <sounds like a good piece of advice> Before I set up this new system I would like your real honest advise. I really love the hobby and I really want to succeed in it but I am very afraid of experiencing these same problems again as so many others do too. In the past, I have received lots of bad advise from too many inexperienced people which meant lots of frustration and lots of lost money. Do you have any tips for me before setting up this new system? What are the 'most important' things to consider in order to avoid fish disease?  <if one person had mentioned that one little thing: Quarantine tank to you long ago, your history in aquariology would have had a much better start. It is the single best thing that you can do to prevent contagious disease> For example, I was told to do 10 gallon water change once every 2 weeks then was told by someone else to do 20% once a month, <depends on the bio-load, but both are light. I'd do more> then I was told by another to NOT do so many water changes since it is a major change in the water chemistry... only once every 6 months <that has to be advice from the same turnip that told you live rock is pathogenic...heehee. That is bad advice, dude!> if you can keep the nitrates down with the use of a good protein skimmer.  <I strongly advise the use of a skimmer or two on a tank as big as yours> If maintaining excellent water quality is really the key to success, what is the best advise you can give me?  <Quarantine and water changes: Dilution is the solution to pollution> Thanks. <very welcome... Anthony>

Live rock Hi Bob  <WWM crew and Anthony Calfo in your service> It's the pest again, its also filtration again.  As I've said in previous email I have a sl50 sump filter Eheim 2217 canister filter Fluval 403 canister filter, qsa-1 fluidized sand filter,25 watt U.V and beast protein skimmer. I want best conditions for me fish and been talking to people who have said live rock would be a good upgrade to system.  <I very much agree> If I did add live rock, what filtration would I have to remove from system if I did go for live rock method? I was gonna fill canisters with filter floss to polish water and phosphate removers. <you don't need to remove any if nitrates are not a concern, but is so... start with the fluidized bed. They are nitrate producing machines> Is this the best way to go? <yes... unless you have a very heavy bio-load (over fed, too many or too large fish)> Do you advise as I will never use this tank to keep inverts also will I have to upgrade lighting I have blue moon Power Glo and a Gro Lux but I was gonna get a Coralife 10000k 1 50/50 and one actinic. Thank you for the advice, Craig <best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Live rock and Ich questions Dear Mr.. Fenner <Anthony Calfo in your service... Bob is in an Australian jail for getting into an argument with the Steve the Crocodile Hunter and giving him a nasty wedgie> I have recently read your book and found that I am really not sure on how to go about adding live rock to my system or if I'm even able to. <always room for live rock... a great investment> My LFS told me not to worry about the nitrates in the water because I only planned on keeping just fish <unless you like butterflies, angles or tangs just to name a few nitrate sensitive creatures> and also I have medicated the tank and the organisms in the rock would not survive.  <display tanks should almost never be medicated... that's what quarantine tanks are for... strongly recommended> After reading more recent information it seems like live rock is the way to go.  <agreed.. and deep fine sand (over 3") if you want nitrate control> As far as my water parameters: nitrates are consistently around 100,ammonia 0, nitrite 0,ph 8.4, phosphate 2.0 all using Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Dry Tab Kit, <phosphates are sky high or it is a typo... you should be growing algae like it is going out of style at this level> SG 1.021 and the temp. is 77. Tank inhabitants are a Volitans lion 8", Naso tang 4", yellow tang 5",grey angel 5",wolf eel 12",niger trigger 4". The tank is 125 gallon and has been up for about six months. <wow... a lot of fish even for a 125 gall. As they grow you will need to thin out some fish or you will have problems> I guess my first question is: Can I add live rock to my tank even after I used Cupramine about 2 months ago and did also treat with Maracyn about 4 months ago?  <yes.. while there is still copper in the sand, assumedly you have done water changes enough to remove it from the water.> I tested for copper recently and it did not show any and also I have been running poly filters for a month now because they claim to remove all traces of medications.  <yes...excellent product!> The rock I plan on getting is supposedly already cured but they recommend keeping it out of the display tank for an additional few days.  <also agreed...test for zero ammonia> I plan on adding about 50 lbs. at a time and wanted to know if I can use my 20 gallon sick tank for curing the rock which has also been exposed to the Maracyn and the Cupramine.  <yes, as per above conditions> Would rinsing the tank out and replacing the media bags on the sick tanks filter be enough to rid any traces of medications from it?  <certainly> I have one more thing I would appreciate if you could help. For a few months now I have seen these tiny free swimming white worm like creatures on the glass, and some even on the body of the trigger fish. My best estimate is that they are only about 1mm long. I even had the pet shop owner come and check them out and he said they were copepods and that they were not a problem unless they get out of hand. <not true on either count. Copepods are tiny dots like fleas and are desirable and completely harmless... the more the better. Worm like things could be many things. Planaria wouldn't be a surprise in this overstocked tank. Still harmless no doubt> I did keep all new fish in a sick tank for a least 3 weeks and would have seen these things. Now when I clean out the canister filters or siphon out the water there are thousands of these things in the bottom of the filters and in the buckets crawling around.  <excellent.. good diversity of natural plankton> When I used the Cupramine for an ick outbreak I noticed it had no effect on the copepods at all. <interesting... no doubt the medication was reduced by the calcareous media in the tank (that is partly why you never dose the main tank)> I do notice when I dump fresh water on them they die instantly. <yep> Now it seems all the fish are effected, the lion fish sometimes hovers where the water returns from one of the filters trying to clear his gills and darts across the tank taking big gulps, the gray angel gulps at the surface of the water, the yellow tang rubs his snout in the substrate and scratches the side of his gill plate, and both the Naso and yellow tang I have seen breathing from just one gill, its like the other is clamped shut.  <definitely a sign of parasites perhaps gill flukes or impending Oodinium> The first thing I did was check the oxygen concentration and that checked out fine.  <a wise move> I also called the shed aquarium here in Chicago and they seemed to think it was gill flukes and told me to use life bearer.  After reading your book it also sounds to me like gill flukes.  <you need straight Formalin for this> I guess my question is: If these are copepods can they cause these types of symptoms  <not possible> or is it possible these are gill flukes and what can I do/use to treat them. Thank you in advance. Mike <yes.. Formalin as per manufactures recommended dose. Kindly, Anthony>

Live Rock Questions Do you need to add cured live rock to your tank at a slow rate like you do fish? <No, but only when completely cured and when you can verify that it is completely cured.> Is there a need for any sort of preventative dip for live rock before you place it in your main tank? <No> Is it true that if live rock dies it will cause ammonia to go up? <Yes, if some of the organisms on the liverock die, ammonia will be excreted.> If this is true, how can you tell when live rock is doing poorly -- color and growth goes? <Yes, also ammonia present and sometimes a smell.> With VHO lighting and calcium supplements should live rock thrive? <Yes> Thanks for any helpful advice you can provide! :) <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Fwd: cycling fish You mean cycle with just live rock? Or have some in there? <When you add fully cured live rock to a tank, you bring in a nearly ready and stable colony of living biological filtration.. less starter fish are necessary and the break in period is more gentle. Live rock is recommended for all marine aquaria. Do read more about its merits in the archives of articles and FAQs of WWM. kindly, Anthony>

Making Live rock I was wondering, I have some dry rock. It is essentially the same thing as live rock but cleaned and dried and sold as decor instead of live rock. It has skeletal structure of corals and even some imbedded shells in it. I was wondering if placed inside of a tank with live rock will the coralline algae and organisms spread to this rock and make live rock?  <yes> If so how long does it take the algae and organisms to flourish to this point? Thanks, John  <depends on your water quality and what you consider "fully baked". In a nutshell... folks that culture live rock in the ocean (best case scenario compared to aquaria) must have rock under 8-14 months for it to even look remotely saleable (2-3 years for killer product). If you would be satisfied simply with biological activity and heavy corallines... then feed Seachem Reef Calcium (sugar based calcium) daily and faithfully and you'll have killer corallines in 4 month. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to contribute to coral growth nearly as well. Anthony>

Live rock or not First, thanks again for your constant willingness in offering your help. <You're welcome. Given the background, circumstances you would do the same> I have a 90 FO tank that was modified by a previous owner; he siliconed lava rocks (pumice) to the glass to form a rock wall on the back of the tank. <Yikes... hard to remove, modify> It looks pretty cool, but my question is its effectiveness in functioning in the same way as regular live rock. What I mean is, do you think it provides much in the way of biological filtration, water quality, etc. as it would if the same amount of rock used was actually live rock? <Mmm, no, decidedly not. Greater surface area is of benefit for hosting more nitrifying bacteria... but real live rock has a great deal more surface, much more diverse, useful, abundant life on/in it, and buffers pH, provides biomineral content...> I have only one piece (3 lbs.) of actual live rock that I started the tank off with and I'm wondering if I should even bother adding any more since there is this other rock already in place. <I would do so> I tend to think the rock is at least providing a good nitrifying bacteria bed since the tank did cycle in just three weeks time. This was done with about three small damsels and the one piece of live rock. What or how much benefit do you suppose this rock wall provides and should I need to add any more live rock to get all the benefits it provides? <Some, and I would add more live rock> Also, I have a Skilter 400 for a protein skimmer (using the airstone trick). As you may well know, it doesn't seem to be very effective. How much waste should the average skimmer produce in a week, would you say, in ounces? Just wondering what the ideal is... <Please read through our www.WetWebMedia.com site re skimmer selection, operation and arguments for the use of live rock. There are many FAQs stored there on these topics. Bob Fenner> Thanks again for the help. Tim

Update Hi Anthony, <Cheers, my friend> The water quality has returned already, 0 nitrite and 0 ammonia. I have large amounts of various microalgae, and am allowing them to just 'do their job' for right now. I would like to add some inverts in a week or so. <excellent> Most of my LR is regaining its color, but I am wondering if I should add a bunch more, because I haven't seen a single 'pod or anything other than a few fanworms hanging on. Is it unlikely that any have survived to reproduce? <it world be a great idea to bring some fresh, cured live rock in to reseed the old stuff. All will be fine in months> Spike (the lionfish) is doing much better, his face healed very nicely. Thanks for your guidance through this stupid mistake! <always welcome... a lifetime of wisdom from such mistakes to speak from <smile> Anthony>

Powerheads Dear Scott, Bob I am already in the process of getting some powerheads in from Aquariums-R-Us in Australia, however delays in our Purchasing bureaucracy (placed the order a month ago!) and the time it takes to freight stuff and get it cleared though Customs is costing us time we can ill afford. So thanks for your kind offer, however it looks like Aquariums-R-Us might be able to deliver by early next week. In case something screws up though, I just wanted to know if there was a back-up powerhead option already in Fiji, or whether I could use airstones instead. I am glad to hear that airstones are do-able - I was worried they might bubble off ammonia and bias our results. Thanks for your trouble, TIM <We used "sand-type" airstones, 3/16" polyethylene air-line tubing and compressed air sources in the copper and organo-tin bio-assays I alluded to weeks back... throwing away old stones between trials. Should be fine. Bob Fenner>

Sustainable Live Rock Harvest Hi Bob, <Steven Pro this evening.> I've been trying to find info supporting wild live rock harvesting with very little success. Would you know of any studies or reports supporting this? Maybe what regulations are in place in Fiji, etc..? It seems to be a question often asked when someone sees a reef tank for the first time. thanks for your help <I do not know all the answers to your question, but I can give you several places to look. Read the articles at the following links and also take a look at the references in the bibliography for each respective article. http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/sourcesmortworldreefs.htm>

LR Before LS? Bob, et al, <Anthony Calfo in your service> Another question for you - I have the LR in the tank going through the "cycle" and am getting a lot of residue/debris off the rock, my original plan was to wait until this stopped and then add the sand, that way I would not have to pick through the sand to remove the debris later. Is this sound? In reading on your site I felt as though the sand may benefit greater from receiving this "junk" - a little confused here... <IMO, the uncertainty of severity of curing live rock requires that it be placed in a bare bottomed tank (and propped off the bottom) first for curing. Thus, rotting matter can be easily siphoned away to maintain the best water quality (and thus save the most in the rock during the process) by such good water circulation in and around the LR> After another 2-3 hours on your FAQ section I read a lot about PVC and Egg Crate material under the rock,  <exactly... during curing can prop the rock up as above> since I will be going with a thin layer of fine sand ~ 3/4" would it be recommended to place this under the rock - I would imagine it would just be another non-porous thing that would prevent water circulation. Perhaps I am over thinking this whole tank thing but I am trying to "do it right" this time... <indeed, you are over thinking. Your first goal is to cure the rock effectively. Then with such a fine layer of sand, the eggcrate will not be necessary. The rock can be placed right on the bottom on the sand. Enjoy...> Thanks again for your wonderful resource!! Regards, Mike <always welcome. Anthony>

Live rock... aluminum bad? Good morning, to whomever is checking email this morning, <Steven Pro this afternoon.> I have a question about aluminum (Al, or Al3+). In a couple of places on the website you indicate that aluminum is bad for reef tanks. This comes up in the context of using vinyl screens vs. copper or aluminum screens, for applications like keeping livestock out of powerheads. What are the consequences of having any aluminum (or Al ion) in a tank? <Aluminum is deadly to all inverts.> Are the consequences the same for FOWLR as true reef tanks? <Yes, in that hermit crabs, snails, etc. will all be affected.> I ask because I used some aluminum foil to cover my quarantine tank recently, to keep an animal out, and I'm getting ready to quarantine some live rock. Should I change 100% of the QT water before the rock arrives? <The aluminum foil was not in the tank right? Merely over it, but you might have had some condensation and subsequent dripping of water/aluminum back into the tank. Yeah, go ahead and change all the water. Better to be safe than sorry.> Thanks very much, John M. Sanders <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: [SDMAS] Looking for live rock I still think that Ron at Octopus's garden has the best live rock. He keeps it under strong lighting which helps keep it from dying further. Ron told me that soon there will be no more stuff coming out of Fiji. Has anyone else heard that? Keith <Ron hauled (thank goodness) the fifteen hundred pounds of our very cured LR out from the last house a couple of months back... and still coming out of Fiji for sure. Bob Fenner, who has recently been there>

Re: [SDMAS] Looking for live rock Thanks for the note. As of right now, Fiji is still shipping all CITES animals, including Live Rock. It will be up to other CITES members around the world to make the decision weather or not to accept the recommended CITED refusal (see attached). http://www.cites.org/eng/news/sundry/fiji_vn_ym_suspension.shtml There has been much action in the Fiji government to get this worked out. Currently, only a few countries in the European Union have accepted the recommendation. We hear, from sources within the US government, that the US will wait to see if Fiji can follow through with its current response. That's from the "Horse's Mouth". Thanks, Scott <Scotter, will assume this info. is for "general consumption" and broadcast, post to the folks through our sites. Fight the good fight my friend. Bob Fenner> Go for it!

Live rock possible? Hi, You have helped me a lot in the past and I have one more question. This is the size of my tank at the mo. Length 96" Width 24" Height 30" The lighting I have is this 4x 40 watt one blue one white two pink. I can't afford to get MH's but LR is very cheap here my question is this. IS LIVE ROCK POSSIBLE IN MY TANK. The filtration is good and the circulation exceptional, I REALLY want some live rock in my tank, please say it is possible, if it is that is. Thank you for your time Craig <Possible, yes... luxurious with this amount/intensity of illumination, no. Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrlightingfaqs.htm and related linked sections of our root web. Bob Fenner>

Unidentifiable Creature from my live rock Hello I've e mailed a couple of times. Our live rock has been in our tank for 4 days now and last night we noticed a bunch of tiny "bug looking" things swimming around on crawling around on the glass. We were excited to see some form of life, but not sure what they are. Then this morning we checked the protein skimmer and found two bigger forms of these tiny bug looking things. They almost look like brine shrimp or something. They're no bigger than 2 mm, they were digging in the scum in the skimmer to hide from us. What do you think these are?? <They sound like amphipods and copepods.> I'm assuming that the tiny ones are babies?? <Not necessarily. If they appear the same but smaller then yes, but quite likely you have several different kinds of critters.> Will this be good food for the fish when we finally put them in? <Yes> The cycle is just starting. Ammonia 0.25, Nitrate 0.25 and nitrite 5 pH 8.2 Sp. Grav. 1.023. It's been 4 days since we added the live rock. We've been only turning on our lights (one 40 watt actinic bulb and one 40 watt regular) for 2 hours a day per your book. Is this OK?? <This is fine. When the cycle is complete, increase lighting to a normal day long photoperiod (8-12 hours).> Should we do our first water change?? The water has been in for 6 days and the rock for 4. How often should we do water changes while its just live rock? <This will depend on your ammonia and nitrite readings. You do not want to allow them to get high enough to damage the life on the liverock.> We're planning on cycling our 10 gal quarantine tank with 2 damsels which we'll get in a few days. <Why not just hook up the quarantine tank filter to the main tank while it is cycling?> How often do we need to change the water on the quarantine tank? <When housing fish, I like to change a small amount daily, 1-2 gallons. When you remove the fish to go into the main display, drain the whole thing and refill.> One more question. Do we need to put substrate in our quarantine tank? <No substrate but a hiding spot or two made of inert material.>> I can't find any info in your book. Right now we just have a piece of PVC pipe and the water. <That will be fine.> Thanks for your help again. Katie <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

How much live rock. G'day Bob, love the site. After your opinion on a couple of things. I am currently setting up a FOWLR 500 litre tank, it comprises of trickle filter with Rio 1700 return, Fluval 404 before that for mech filtration, skimmer, 2 Rio 1100 pumps for circulation. lighting-fluros-1corallife 40 watt actinic blue, 36 watt 10000k marine white&arcadia 36 watt marine white and substrate set up as a plenum. I have put in (before filling) 25 kg Tufa rock for decoration & shelter. when I fill it how much live rock should I add and should I wait for tank to cycle before adding live rock or can I put it in after a couple of weeks to help the cycling process. <Put the liverock in before any fish and allow tank to cycle.> I was planning on having 2 panther groupers (I know they get big and will hopefully have a bigger tank in the future to move them to)1 flame angel,1 yellow tang/and maybe a coral trout or red emperor (I realize they get big too). possibly also some green Chromis. Does this sound okay? <No, the Chromis and possibly the flame angel will be eaten by the groupers. Plus, you will need to get a much larger tank in the near future, not hopefully.> and with this system would it be possible to have some inverts later on/anemones/ star polyps. <Your current lighting does not seem adequate and controlling nutrients and nuisance algae will be very difficult with your intended fish.> your opinion would be greatly appreciated. thanks, bob in Australia. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: how much live rock. Thanks for your quick reply, appreciate it. What would you recommend in the way of lighting if what I have will cause nuisance algae (I would like to keep it in check). I can only afford fluorescents at the moment. I will also be using r/o water. the fish are only a thought at the moment, except the grouper. thanks again. <It is not so much the lighting that will cause nuisance algae, but the amount of fish waste (nutrients). A RO unit will help. So will aggressive protein skimming, but it is difficult to combine a reef tank with a fish tank. Many people try, but few succeed. You need to decide do you want a predator fish tank or is your primary love the photosynthetic inverts. It sounds like the big fish. I would add Caulerpa to your system as decoration and nutrient control. -Steven Pro>

Live Rock Good Day- Mr. Fenner <Anthony Calfo in your service> I was just wondering if I were to buy some more LR and put it in my tank and a mantis shrimp were to show up would it put my other fish in danger or kill them?  <very unlikely with the below listed fishes... but you did intend to quarantine/cure it first in a separate tank didn't you? It would not be very responsible to put rock in directly considering the great value of the fishes at hand, not to mention their very lives, to indiscriminately put unscreened live rock/sand/or new fishes in so casually. Too great a risk of parasites, pests and predators that way> I have a 7" Adult Emperor Angelfish, 4-5" Clown Trigger, 4-5" Miniatus Grouper-2 blue damsels which he will finish up in a few days and a 4" Tomato Clownfish. I already have 130lbs of LR and am wanting to add 30lbs of Fiji or Tonga LR - I have 135 gallon tank.-Thank you for your help-Ian Behnk <kindly, Anthony>

Live Rock Mr. Fenner: <Steven this afternoon.> I made a mistake in listening to my LFS and added copper to my main tank. 90 gallon FOWLR. My clown trigger and lionfish eventually died anyway. Now this has caused additional problems. I have made several water changes and added filters to remove the copper. The organisms living on the outside of my live rock have disappeared. Is my live rock still alive? <Some bacteria left, but not much else.> I am told that the copper has leached into my silicone of the tank and will stay there forever. <Not true, but the truth is worse. The copper has bonded to any and all calcium based substrates; liverock, crushed coral gravel, aragonite sand, etc. Copper should only ever be used in bare bottom quarantine tanks.> Can I add new live rock to the tank and will it survive? <It is necessary to remove all traces of copper first.> I do not want to purchase more live rock if it will not survive. If so, will the coralline algae spread to the old live rock (now base rock it seems) and grow back? <No> Lastly, what do I need to maintain my live rock/coralline so it stays alive correctly? <Proper lighting, calcium, alkalinity, and nutrient control Thanks for your assistance on this subject. Regards, Mendy1220. <Sorry you got such bad advise. The best thing I can do to help you in the future is to implore you to educate yourself through reading books and the many pieces on this website. That way you will be less susceptible to bad advise. You may want to start shopping around for another LFS, too. -Steven Pro>

Rock and Feeding questions Hello Mr. Fenner , <Greetings, my dear... Anthony Calfo in your service> I'm new to the Reef Hobby, and I've been doing a lot of reading on your Web Site. Great Site, specially for Newbies like me. I've done some research, and I know that Live Rock shouldn't be added to the reef tank, unless it's previously cured, However, How bad would it be to add it , maybe 5lbs at a time, if possible?? <if it is uncured...never in any quantity... it is too risky regarding stress, disease/infection and nutrients that cause nuisance algae. However, if it is truly cured live rock... the more you add the better!> I also have a question about feeding. I feed my livestock every other day (formula1, and brine shrimp cubes dissolved in water) 1 big squirt (from Turkey Baster) <feeding is a bit too light and your animals will definitely starve slowly by attrition with brine shrimp being a significant part of this infrequent diet. Frozen adult brine shrimp are remarkably deficient in nutritive substance. Try Mysid shrimp, or fine plankton (Pacifica) instead for a whole prey substitute> I also feed phytoplankton twice a week. <absolutely useless for the animals that you have listed below with the possible exception of the feather worm...and even that is debatable...more likely feeds by absorption and by mucosal capture of bacteria and the like> Do you think this is sufficient. I don't want to unnecessarily pollute the tank <I must admit that I think you are with the phyto...your animals are all zooplankton feeders or "other" filter/organismal feeders> I have 1 Torch Coral<feed fine shredded meats 2-3 times weekly> 1 Tridacna Clam <what species?> 1 feather duster 1 Yellow Tang <heavy greens needed will suffer on meats. Try Formula 2 and dried Nori seaweed for starters> 1 Bicolor Angel <same as tang> 1 Flame Angel <same as tang> 2 Percula Clowns <eats meaty foods/zooplankton> 1 Orange Spotted Blenny 1 Catalina Goby 1. Flame Head Goby My Tank has been set-up since November. I have a 75G tank with 50 lbs of live rock Fiji, and Marshall /lots of holes and caves) from my LFS . An Amiracle Wet Dry, with UV sterilizer and Custom Sea Life In sump skimmer. <does your skimmer actually produce 4-8oz of dark skimmate daily? If not, you can expect nuisance algae in the near future> All my water parameters are in acceptable ranges , Ammonia:0, PH: 8.0, Nitrites: 0, Nitrates:10 <whoa! common problem...pH is too low. Get that up over 8.3 please> I just started Using a 2-Part Liquid Kent Calcium Doser to encourage Coralline growth , Do you think this is OK, <yes, a nice product... but before you begin using, you must confirm/correct alkalinity and free calcium into reasonable ranges (8-12 dKH and 380+ppm respectively> Any additional items that could improve my setup? <a second/better skimmer> My ultimate goal is to remove the bio balls and convert to a sump with Live rock, but after reading a little, I don't think I have enough Live rock, yet to support the Bioload. <agreed and agreed> That's the reason, why I want to add (Gradually ) more live rock I just don't know how to go about it. Sorry for so many questions <thank you for caring to hear a shared opinion. Kind regards, Anthony> Thanks Maria

Rocks & coral w/copper? Hello Dr. Fenner, <Just Bob please> Everything I have read seems to say that an effective copper treatment for marine ich/velvet requires removal of rocks & coral (mine are not live).  <In almost all cases, yes... otherwise the life, chemical nature of the non-living matrix absorbs the copper... and kills a bunch of the life in the process> A month ago I completed my second 14 day copper treatment @ 25ppm in my 135 gal. <Mmm, you're missing a decimal point> Each time I removed everything except about a one inch layer of crushed coral. Without adding any other fish the ich/velvet has returned, my fish get along fine with no stress, but on warmer days my tank's temperature fluctuates a few degrees. <Whoa! Are you sure you had a continuous physiological dose (free cupric ion concentration) during this interval?> I said the heck with stripping my tank again and just started the treatment again.  <Mmm, not a good idea... weakened fishes... from the previous treatment...> So far after only a few days the disease has seemed to subside. I will treat for at least 14 days. My question is Dr. Fenner, am I likely to be successful in treating with rocks and coral in the tank?  <No... if these materials, life are present they will take up the copper, be harmed by it (in terms of the living components, organisms) and preclude/prevent the copper from being of sufficient ongoing strength (concentration) to effect a cure. Please read through the many disease, copper use articles and FAQs posted on the Marine Index of WetWebMedia.com> And would it be advisable to try to push a few extra days on the treatment? In testing the copper levels I have not seen erratic drops or rises in the levels, and also, all of my fish have handled these treatments extremely well. One other thing please, I regularly feed these fish live ghost shrimp that I keep in a slightly brackish 150 gal tank outdoors. I collect these from a bay by the thousands, could they possibly be transmitting this disease to my fish? The water quality is always very good. As always, thank you very much for your time and expertise, Steve Tilotta <Again, do study the materials posted on WWM. Bob Fenner>  

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