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FAQs about Live Rock 5

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Related FAQs: Live Rock, Answering Some LR FAQs by James Fatherree, Live Rock 1, LR 2LR 3, LR 4, 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 Rock, Base Rock

To Bleach or Not To Bleach?  11/8/05 Bob, <Actually, Scott F. here for Bob today> I'm going to completely clean my tank. I have sometime {some kind of?} of a fungus disease that is just killing fish left and right. <A fungus? Or a parasitic disease, like Amyloodinium ("Velvet")? Either way, it does sound nasty.> I will be selling my live rock to some else and I heard to add bleach to the system and run the system for like 2 hours, remove the water and that fill again and add a dechlorinating agent. <I'd be very honest with the purchaser about the origin of this rock. If this turns out to be a parasitic disease, the purchaser can unknowingly introduce it into his/her tank. Best to have the purchaser let this rock sit without fishes for a month or two before use in a display. Yes, your "bleaching" technique sounds okay.> Would this work if I were to leave the gravel in the bottom and still effectively sterilize the tank, or should I just get all new gravel? <Personally, I'd start with new substrate material. If you're going to the effort to break the system down, you might as well clean everything and start with fresh sand.> Will the bleach hurt my UV sterilizer and protein skimmer or should I continue to system these while the bleach is in the system <Bleach may or may not damage the plastics used in their construction. Personally, I'd sterilize these items with lots of hot freshwater and a very quick (like a few minutes) dip in water with bleach, followed by a thorough rinsing. I would not run either while using bleach in the system.> Thank you Andrew Watson <Glad to help, Andrew. best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.> 

Plumbing & Live Rock Questions (1/5/2004) Thanks for the response. I actually sent another email yesterday because I wasn't sure if this one you responded to went through! Sorry. Okay, another question. <Steve Allen answering tonight.> If we do drill a hole in the sump, we have to seal the hole with something because we don't want any leaks. What is safe to seal with for fish? <You need a bulkhead fitting of appropriate size. It has a rubber gasket that goes on the water side to seal the hole. You can glue your PVC pipe to the inside of the bulkhead (one with a smooth inside) with regular PVC cement from the plumbing section of Home Depot or Lowe's. Check here for  plumbing parts:   http://www.marinedepot.com/a_ft_2.asp?CartId=#bh   The bulkhead is inserted from inside the sump and the ring is threaded tightly from the outside. Some sort of strainer ought to be on the inside. Your PVC can then be glued to the inside of the part that sticks out of the sump. If you don't glue it, you will get some leakage and salt creep. Of course, this is permanent, so don't glue anything until you have it the way you want it.> Very interesting about the bio balls. Someone told me NEVER to disturb them. Now I know the real story.  I had a friend buy live rock and put it in his tank. All his fish died within 2 hours. <Obviously, the rock was not properly cured and released a load of ammonia. The other possibility is that it was used rock that had been exposed to some sort of toxin.> I've been scared to do it since that happened to him. <No need to fear. You can either buy uncured rock and cure it yourself or buy thoroughly pre-cured (from LFS) and add it. This way is much more expensive and you will need to do it slowly to avoid ammonia spikes if it was not fully cured. Curing it yourself is much less expensive and allows you to be certain it was done right. Read more on WWM about "curing live rock."> We have the living color coral now. Its very pretty, but not as natural as I'd like. <If you are looking at corals, you need to research proper lighting first.> Also, I had a friend tell me to get a crab to clean up, but I was also told this is a bad idea. I heard a crab will grab a fish while it is sleeping, and even if it is a clown trigger, the crab can eat him. I thought that was odd. I thought Clown Triggers eat crabs. <Yes, but they do sleep. However, it is not likely that a hermit crab that stays small will do this. Other crabs maybe, but the Trigger will likely get the crab first. Crabs are generally untrustworthy. I am not a big fan of them as cleaners either. Look at some snails (Nassarius, Nerites, Turbo, Cerith) and brittle stars as better choices.>  Maybe you can clarify. I mentioned I'd read the Conscientious Marine Aquarist, anything else you can recommend? I enjoy reading, and I have learned a lot at this point, but I am always wanting more! <Uh Oh, you got the "librarian" tonight. How much are you willing to spend? For starters, I'd suggest "Reef Secrets" by Fossa & Nielsen. This is a wonderful book with a great chapter on live rock and an excellent selection guide. I love Bob & Anthony's "Reef Invertebrates" book. Great discussion of algae, deep sand beds, live rock & refugia. Then there's Scott W. Michael's "Reef Fishes," a great guide to 500+ species. If your interested in other, progressively more detailed and expensive books, I'd be glad to provide some other titles.> Thanks, Trish Brian <Hope this helps>

System set up 1/1/04 Hello <Hi Martin.  Happy New Year!> I am currently setting up a marine system and intend to use a DSB, the display tank is 60"x24" highx19" deep with a sump 48"x15"x15". I intend to make the DSB 5-6" deep <Sounds like a nice system and an appropriately deep bed.> my questions are can I seed and mature the DSB before connection in to the main tank. then add live rock to the main tank. <IMO, the best way to seed the bed is with the live rock itself.  A lot of critters will migrate from the rock to the sand.  This is especially true if you get good quality rock that has not been overly processed.  Another reason to add the live rock first is that without it, the system will be too "sterile" and there will not be any food or diversity of habitat for the critters to exploit.> I have not seen anywhere a detailed procedure for setting up a system with a DBS. can you please help ? <Generally, it is simplest and most effective to add the sand, fill the tank with salt water and then add the rock and some water movement devices (can be through the sump, or just powerheads).  Once cycling is complete and things have stabilized, add additional critters to "seed" the bed.  It is also ideal to let the tank go fish free for a couple more weeks while adding small amounts of food to feed all of the critters that you want to grow.  When adding rock, do be sure that it is placed so that it won't topple of the sand shifts.  Also, I put as little rock in to or in contact with the sand as possible, even going so far as using PVC pipe sections as "legs" to support the rock.  This prevents "dead spots" of no water movement, leaves more sand area exposed and gives you more for your money on live rock.  Also ask around in your local aquarium club or other aquarists and see what folks are happy with and unhappy with to help guide your set up.> best regards. Martin <Good luck, and let us know if you have any other questions.  Adam> Recycling rock and sand 1/1/04 Hi, <Hi Mihail.  Happy New Year!> Quick question: I got a second hand 90G setup that also came with a considerable quantity of sand (~50lb) and some rocks that were likely live rock a long time ago (bone dry now). I understand (from your *excellent* website and from Bob's book) that the risk in re-using this substrate and dead LR (DLR) is copper contamination (if the previous owner did use copper in his tank, this was absorbed in this substrate and will be slowly released in my tank). Is this correct? <This is correct, but would be the least of my concerns.  In addition to the possibility of copper contamination, there will be a lot of organics (all of the formerly living things in them) in both the rock and sand.  The costs of replacement will be a bargain relative to the nightmare of "reviving" this material.> However, I do not want to throw this sand and DLR away if I can help it.  Therefore I decided to test it. The problem is that I'm not sure how to go about it. I was thinking to buy a copper testing kit, place the sand and DLR in a Rubbermaid container with a powerhead and test the water after about one day. If any copper shows up (more than what was before introducing the substrate) I'll throw them away. If not, I'll keep them... <To better test for copper, I would scrape some material from the surface of the rock, dissolve it in some weak HCl and then test for copper.> How does this sound? Are there any other risks besides copper? <As above, I really think you will have serious problems with the rock and especially the sand.  I personally would avoid using them.> Thank you, Mihai <Hope this is helpful!  Adam>

Re: recycling rock and sand 1/4/04 Thank you for your timely answer. However I think that a few clarifications are in order:  I do not plan to use the dead sand and the dead live rock instead of "live sand" and "live rock", but rather instead of "dead, dry sand" and "dead base rock" that will eventually be colonized from my new 100lb of live rock and some live sand that I'll get from the LFS. <I actually assumed that this would be the case, and my recommendation stands.> As of now both the sand and the rock are dry for over one year, and hence there is no trace of any of the living organisms in/on it. <Where did they go?  They are still in the rock/sand.  They are just dried up decayed organic matter.  Lot's of stuff you really don't want to put into your tank.  No amount of rinsing, etc. will get rid of it, the material is just too porous.> I do not worry about getting live in it... I know that it will get there eventually... My main question is if recycling it can harm my new live rock that I'll buy in a day or two, my live sand or my new tank, and if I can test for this harmful potential (I know about copper, anything else of concern?). <The organics, phosphate and/or possibly copper and other metals have a very high likelihood of causing problems if you reuse this rock and sand, even in combination with new live rock and live sand.  IMO, it is just not worth the risk.> BTW, do you know where can I find some HCl? <HCl (AKA Muriatic Acid) is available at home improvement stores in the painting supplies.  It can be quite dangerous, and after some thought would recommend plain white vinegar instead.  It is much safer and readily available.> Thanks a lot for your help, Have a happy and productive year, Mihai <You too!  Best of luck!  Adam>

Re: recycling rock and sand 1/5/03 Thanks a lot! That was REALLY good advice. First, I just realized that I actually needed *lots* OF SAND (180-200lb),  and my recycled 30lb of sand would have not made a big difference. Regarding the test, I put about 2-3oz of sand and a bit of dead live rock in about 4oz of water and left it over night. The second day, testing for  copper revealed about .3ppm of copper, i.e. exactly the "treatment" dose. It is clear that the previous owner used copper in his display tank and I  would have killed all the invertebrates I would have put in my tank. Thanks again, Mihai <Mihai, I think you are making the right choice not to use this substrate.  The fact that the rock liberated that quantity of copper tells me that the previous owner used copper liberally.  Good luck!  Adam.>

125 gallon tank 1st time set up. 12/31/03 Thanks for your time and advice.  One last question on the 50 gallon tank. If it is going to be fish only with no inverts or corals at all do I have to add  more live rock with the filtration I am currently using because my water  tests have not fluctuated at all the last 3 months.  Thanks again <Hi Scott.  Adam here.  When posting follow up questions, please do include the text of previous messages or remind us of the details.  Sometimes a different crew member will get your follow up, or with the volume of mail just can't remember all of the info. Generally, if you have a well established tank with at least 1/2lb per gallon (very rough rule!) of quality live rock, it should be able to handle proper stocking; that is give the tank a couple of weeks to adapt after each addition.  Monitor water quality after each addition and recognize that if any nitrogenous wastes begin to accumulate you are exceeding the capacity of your filtration.  If this doesn't answer your question, please feel free to write back with some details.  Best regards and Happy New Year!  Adam> Scott

Starting With Live Rock (12/27/2003) Hello, I love your site. but anyways I have began to start up a reef aquarium (40 Gal) and I was wondering when I first put the live rock into my tank should I put it in a few pounds at a time or all at once? I was thinking about adding a total of about 40 pounds, thanks for your help <You're welcome. If the rock is fully cured, you can put it in all at once, but expect some ammonia spike & need for water changes. Some people cure rock in their tank when they are first starting out. If you do this, be prepared for a memorable stench in the room, perhaps for several weeks. Frequent, massive water changes will be needed then. However you choose to proceed, I would not add any other life until all of the LR is in and the tank fully cycled. Hope this helps, Steve Allen.>

Conflicting Advice on LR (12/24/2003) <Steve Allen on his soapbox tonight.> I am about to set up a new 90 gallon fish only aquarium, because it will have no invertebrates (no cleaners, brittlestars, snails or hermits?> It has been suggested to me that I use a different type of rock than live rock since nothing will be in the tank to maintain <??> the live rock. I like this idea because it sounds cleaner and cheaper but I am not sure what kind of rock to go with. Some places have suggested lava rock but I have seen you warn against them, though I don't understand why the pet store would have the rock in the fish section if it was not safe. <Because they make a lot of money selling it. They also make a lot of money replacing people's dead fish until they give up and sell their set-up at a garage sale. Our advice is free and based on cumulative centuries (persons X years per person) of the experience of many aquarists (not just the crew themselves.) Lava rock has toxic metals that you do not want in your tank. Tufa rock or "base rock" would be better.> So if not lava rock what kind? <Live Rock!> I am going to use a crushed coral base with live sand on top and the fish I have decided on are a zebra moray, flame angel <needs live rock with its flora/fauna to survive>, dwarf lionfish, brown tang, a few jeweled blennies, a mandarin <Bad choice. Read why on WWM. You must have LARGE amounts of well-established LR & LS and probably a fishless refugium to keep one. More than 90% die in captivity.>, possibly a Koran angel <your tank is way to small for this 16" fish. Needs at least 180g, preferably 240g+; also likes to graze LR as all Angels do.>, and a few other that are up in the air at this time. <Whoa Bryan! Your eyes are too big for your tank. Imagine living in your living room 24/7 with 10 other people. I know how easy it is to get carried away with all those wonderful fish to choose from. Just remember that most of them were taken of some reef somewhere and we marine aquarists have a moral obligation to care for them properly to assure their long, healthy life in our tanks. If we cannot demonstrate this kind of good stewardship, we will eventually be subjected to the sort of regulation they already have in Europe. Did you know that the importation & sale of Butterfly fishes is prohibited in Germany? You need to cut way back on your stocking plan.> I will be using a sump with a Rio 2500 powerhead <consider better options> and a SeaClone100 protein skimmer. <Not at all adequate for a heavily loaded tank. Most feel this product is junk. Search WWM on "SeaClone" to learn more. You need something like an AquaC or Euro-Reef.> Any hints on what to do would be greatly appreciated, Thanks for your time. -Bryan <You're welcome, although I know that what I am saying here is hard to hear. It's time to go back to the drawing board and re-think your entire plane. If you really want this type of bioload, you need to start at 240 gallons. You need a large, top-notch skimmer that will cost $3-500. You need a bigger sump and better circulation. You need a couple of hundred pounds of good quality live rock.> <Go buy Michael S. Paletta's "The New Marine Aquarium" and Robert Fenner's "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist." Read them cover to cover before you buy a thing. That's what I did, and my fish and I are far better for it. Study a lot more about live rock and sand beds and refugiums. Consider also buying Scott W. Michael's "Marine Fishes" which is a wonderful guide to hundreds of marine fishes and their care.> <As for LR, virtually all marine aquarium experts consider it vital to success, hence the term Fish-Only With Live Rock (FOWLR). One way to save is to buy cheaper "base rock" for the foundation and put LR on it. Then leave your tank fishless for several months to allow the live to spread from the LR to the base rock.> <BTW, be sure to study cycling, quarantine and all of the other vital husbandry practices. Masses of valuable info can be found on WWM's archives. Marine aquariums are not just a hobby. They are a passion and a responsibility. They require serious commitment, not casual interest.>

- Reusing Dead Live Rock - Hi there, Could you answer this question for me really quick? <I can try.> I have about 30-35 pounds of live rock in my tank. If you use any type of fish curing agents (like Green-Ex, I think that is what it is called) directly in the tank, is your live rock still "live" and healthy? <No.> I used Green-Ex a long time ago and since have moved, so most of the water in my 29 tall was removed and replaced with fresh once relocated. I currently supplement with Essential Elements and another vitamin/mineral supplement every week, once a week. My live rock has never really turned colorful, there is a little purple but that is it. I read about re-seeding live rock, can you tell me what that is and how to do it? <Just add some new/fresh live rock.> Or is there any other way to really get the live colorful with time? <In time, but dead live rock rarely comes back to its original state.> Maybe this is a stupid question, but can live rock be killed and brought back to life? <To some extent - have done it myself, is mostly what's in my fishtank right now. But doesn't look at all like the $10/lb rock I bought a couple of years back.> Thanks a bunch! Aaron <Cheers, J -- >

Live Rock (11-28-03) If I have extra live rock for my reef tank that I cannot use, if I let it dry out, can it easily be converted back to "live" again? <If you seed it with other live rock it will grow back life with time.> If live rock is left in an unlighted sump, is it still "live"?<It is still good for all the copepods and non photosynthetic animals also it will still serve as biological filtration so I guess you could still call it live.  Cody>   Thanks! Ron

Oy, My Head! II >Thanks for all your input. >>Most welcome, Rob. >One last thing I forgot to ask. Would it be OK for me to put in some live rock w/my setup as it stands? If so, as long as it's cured right? Thanks again. >>Absolutely, Rob!  Since you've got a smaller setup, don't add too much, or you'll be not only displacing water volume, but reducing swimming area for the tang.  I always recommend q/t, just in case (mantis shrimp, anyone?).  Otherwise, definitely won't hurt.  Marina

- Limestone Substitute - Will limestone be a good substitute for real LR? <Not really - live rock from reef sources is quite porous, full of holes... places for various fauna to develop. Limestone is typically a solid mass, so won't have the same effect.> Limestone is much cheaper, and are limestone and coral similar chemically? <Yes, they are similar, and limestone would be a better choice for marine decoration than say marble or river rocks, but it still isn't a good substitute for genuine live rock.> Is it possible to use limestone in a marine setup? <Anything is possible... a better question to ask is: is limestone optimal for a marine setup, and the answer would be no, not as the only rock in the tank. You could use limestone as base rock, but you'd still want to have live rock mixed in there to provide denitrifying affects. Cheers, J -- >

- Marine Setup - Hello I know you have probably answered this many times bit I can't find it on the frequently asked questions so I hope you can help. I have just acquired a 40 gallon tank and which I intend to run as a fish only with the use of like Fiji rock as a biological filter plus a skimmer and the internal filter (1500 lh pump) that comes with tank (its a Juwel). I have done lots of research and have got it in straight in my head what I'm doing. The only worries I have are about the initial setting up of the tank. Do I add water then substrate then rock or rock and substrate first? <I like to put in the substrate dry, and then add water - usually by putting a bowl in the bottom of the tank so that the water additions don't disturb the substrate too much. Doing things the other way around usually makes for a very cloudy tank for the first day or so. Once the tank is full enough to cover the rock with water, I add the rock.> Also, am I right to think that I will not go through the cycle as the rock will have the required bacteria already. <This does happen sometimes... really depends on how well cured the rock is. Still a wise thing to test and be certain what is going on.> How much rock should I use, I'm thinking about ten kilos? <Hmm... that's probably good enough by half - typically we recommend one pound per gallon - even with the difference in Imperial and US gallons, I'd still think you could almost double that amount of live rock and do quite well - perhaps 18 or 19 kilo.> If you can help with any of this it would be greatly appreciated as it can be a little daunting along with the excitement. <No worries.> Kind regards David Bond <Cheers, J -- >

Fiji LR Ban 11/12/03 Crew: I saw a post on today's FAQs about the color of coralline algae on Fiji LR. It is my understanding that there is currently a ban in place on importation of Fiji LR (& some other things) due to CITES non-compliance. Have you heard of this? Any idea how long it will last? Steve Allen <Likely a few weeks at most... all stand to lose from non-compliance. My understanding is that CITES paperwork is delinquent at the country level... this will be rectified, and soon. Bob Fenner>

Something squirting out of my live rock. I've had my rock for a month now and I've noticed that two of them excrete some kind of slimy waste that comes out from the pores and disappears into the high current. what the heck is this?<You probably have some species of burrowing mollusks that inhabit the Live rock and they are stirring all of the sediment up within the rock, No worries here, IanB>

-Smothered rock?!- Hey guys, My system setup is 240 8'x2'x2', 3 250 10000k MH w 2 6' Icecap 03 VHOs. Internal hard piped recirculation system, 1000 GPH pump w 8 heads. Overflows to a 125 AGA partitioned tank w 36 x 18 two layer 7" deep sand bed w plenum w 2 96W PC (eventually a deep sand bed refugium). Turboflotor 5000 Baby skimmer-over pumped with a valved bypass going to a 36" spray bar to cause cross-current on the DSB's linear flow. 1500 GPH return at the head. I cured 300# of live rock in the main system w the DSB setup. I cured and cycled the main system to readings of 0-0-60 added carbon and water changes to readings 0-0-10. <Nitrate should go undetectable soon as the sandbed establishes its anaerobic pockets.> Plenty of life now in the DSB, I also seeded the DSB w the filter sponges from my two Fluvals on other tanks (lots of copepods, Amps, worms, baby Astrea snails and the such!!) <Yum!>  Yesterday and today I arranged the LR and put in a 5.5 two layer DSB in the main system. This morning there were plenty of worms in the main system's DSB. Finally to my question; Since I buried and basically smothered 5.5 inches of LR is it reasonable to expect to get a delayed Ammonia and NO2 spike from the die-off on the smothered rock?? <I suppose that would depend on what got buried. With the amount of live rock and sand in the system, I would suspect that any ammonia produced by the decaying matter would be rapidly converted to nitrate in very short order. I would still test for ammonia and nitrite, but I doubt that you'll be able to detect anything.> I want to add my fish next week and my corals the week after from my other systems!! <It never hurts to extend the schedule a little! -Kevin> Thanks, Bill Walters MGR, Shark Aquarium Union, NJ

Live Rock Hi, I've recently acquired 2 medium sized pieces of live rock. The dealer recommended one cured and one uncured to get the cycling started. Are there any foreseeable problems with phosphate or nitrates due to the uncured rock? <not really, unless you introduce great amounts of LR into an aquarium with livestock> Secondly, thin worms are observed 'peering' out off tiny holes. They range from whitish to dark brown in color and seem very similar to skinny earthworms.<yes, you will find many worms within the LR> I have gone through the invert links on the site but am still unable to identify them. Are they harmful?<probably not, I would not be concerned, IanB> Thanks for your help! Hector

What's growing on my live rock? (10/14/03) <Hi! Ananda here doing a bit of detective work tonight...> Could you please tell me what this is growing on my live rock. <Yup. Halimeda. More info here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/greenalg.htm and elsewhere on the WetWebMedia site (just type "Halimeda" in the Google search field at the bottom of the Daily FAQ page).> I have had the tank up and running for about 4 years now and have never noticed it. It started growing about a month ago. Looks like it might be some form of algae? <Yup, but not a harmful one.> Is it ok to leave or should I pick it out? <It's fine to leave it there, but watch your calcium levels if you have corals, as Halimeda is a calcareous algae (i.e., it utilizes calcium in its structure).> Thanks, Shawn <You're welcome. --Ananda>

Re: Shedd website comments Bob: <Steve> I thought this exchange would interest you. I took the liberty of quoting you without attribution to avoid any possible repercussions to you for your comments about public aquaria & live rock. I hope you don't mind. Anyway, it looks like my message to Shedd will have a positive effect on their site. <Am glad to hear/read of your forthrightness. In future though, please do not hesitate to list my name, even the WWM site as a source. Am not adverse to stating my mind or being held to task for same> Thanks for all you do to promote responsible, conscientious marine aquarium practices. I am certain that you and the crew have saved the lives of countless living beings and the $ of many a hobbyist. <Agreed, and thank you. Bob Fenner> Steve Allen Subject: Shedd website comments Dear Mr. Allen, Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the content of our website. We are happy to make revisions to the site when necessary, and as you rightly point out, the message on live rock misses the mark. One of the primary messages we hope to impart to our visitors is that they can take responsibility as consumers in supporting environmentally sustainable practices. In 1998, when we opened our seahorse exhibit, again in 2000 with our Amazon exhibit, and now with Wild Reef, one of the key messages we share is about making informed choices that promote sustainability.  This hits home for the aquarium hobbyist community, as well as for the public aquarium community. The reliance that we have on wild populations of animals for our displays is not too different from that of the home enthusiasts. In our exhibits and publications, we strive to put forward information that is useful to the beginner, and that guides them towards understanding the issues, getting reliable information, and then making informed choices. In creating our exhibits and building our collections, we work with colleagues to make sure that our own practices are as sustainable as they can be, and we help advance organizations that are working toward that end. The Marine Aquarium Council (www.aquariumcounci.org) is an excellent example of an organization that is doing just that. <We shall see. RMF> While the solutions aren't always easily found, the movement towards a sustainable trade in aquarium fishes and invertebrates is one that we strongly support. Clear messages on the merits of sustainable fishing practices over damaging alternatives such as cyanide fishing, blast fishing, etc. are presented to our guests in our Wild Reef exhibit. Focusing on live rock was a mistake. The broader messages around informed consumer practices for aquarium keeping are what will soon be replacing that item on our list of things people can do to help reefs. Thanks again for taking the time to write to us.    Sincerely, Jeff Boehm, DVM Vice President , Conservation and Veterinary Services John G. Shedd Aquarium 1200 South Lake Shore Drive Chicago, IL 60605 Subject: Live Rock Aquaria Dear Shedd Aquarium Administrators: Number 8 on your list of ways to conserve reefs reflects your utter ignorance of the marine aquarium hobby. The manner in which live rock is collected for the aquarium trade is not at all devastating to reefs. To quote a well-know marine aquarium expert: "I have been (several times) to operations that collect such rock... in a few countries... It IS collected in areas where little permanent sessile macro-life (including stony or soft corals) occurs. I am at times alarmed at the apparent ignorance and/or stance of public aquariums on "hobbyist" use of resources... What a height of hypocrisy and stupidity... to on the one hand condemn "common folks" from using the world... and on the other charging them to see a smattering of it... And to think they will/can 'talk down' the avocational use of said resources and not hope/think to get caught up in the ensuing negative legislation that will surely follow the limiting/exclusion of our hobby." It is impossible to maintain a home-size marine tank without live rock. There are other issues that are infinitely more threatening to reefs than live rock collection, including several on your list. The harvesting of coral & reef rock for construction material and trinkets vastly exceeds the collection for aquariums. There are issues within the hobby that need addressing (harvesting of organisms that have no hope of survival in an aquarium, for instance) that need to be addressed & corrected, but the harvesting of live rock is not one of these. Perhaps if some of your wealthy donors/patrons paid to support the families in some of these tropical countries who depend on the harvesting of live rock for their daily sustenance, they would stop doing it. However, the money would be better spent on stopping the use of cyanide & dynamite on reefs. Steve Allen, Taylorsville, UT <Again, thank you for your efforts. Clarity is pleasurable. Bob Fenner>

Live rock guilt Hello all, <Howdy> I was planning a trip to Chicago's Shedd Aquarium to visit their new exhibit on Filipino Reefs, and thought I'd check it out on their website. As I'm looking around, I see a section on conservation and think to myself 'right on, this is great'. Then I see a link to 15 things you can do. http://www.shedd.org/wildreef/tertiary_template.cfm?article=30 Here is #8: "8. Don't start a live rock aquarium. Although this invertebrate-encrusted rock is still legally harvested in some places, its removal is devastating to the reef habitat." <An ignorant statement. The removal of anything has some impact... but the way most LR is extracted has minimal negative consequences> I know the reef builds on these rocks, but I didn't think collection was that harmful. Am I naive? <No, perhaps misled or in danger of being so> I've only been doing this for about a year (with relative success thanks to this site), but justifying the hobby is sometimes difficult when I read stuff like this. Thanks, Jose <Jose, I have been (several times) to operations that collect such rock... in a few countries... It IS collected in areas where little permanent sessile macro-life (including stony or soft corals) occurs. I am at times alarmed at the apparent ignorance and/or stance of public aquariums on "hobbyist" use of resources... What a height of hypocrisy and stupidity... to on the one hand condemn "common folks" from using the world... and on the other charging them to see a smattering of it... And to think they will/can "talk down" the avocational use of said resources and not hope/think to get caught up in the ensuing negative legislation that will surely follow the limiting/exclusion of our hobby. Thank you for sending this along. Bob Fenner> Base rock to live rock I just bought a 50-gallon reef system that had been run for several years by a very experienced reef aquarist. (I learned the ropes of saltwater with a 29-gallon FOWLR tank for the last two years.) The tank has an excellent sump system with a very large downdraft skimmer, a metal halide pendant and two 36-inch actinics. It also has deep bed (about 6 inches) of live sand that is very "live" and has coralline algae all across the back wall and in a few other places. Unfortunately, just before I bought it, the owner sold the 60 lbs of Fiji live rock that had been in it (he had already sold the corals and livestock). When I bought it, he gave me a load (probably 100 lbs) of very nice base rock that had been used in a system at one time but had been cleaned and stored dry for several years. He advised me to place the base rock in the tank and let the live sand seed it for two months while feeding lightly and treating the tank with B-Ionic to encourage coralline algae growth. I had planned on buying some cured live rock to speed the process, but now I wonder if that's worth the expense. The base rock isn't colorful now, but it looks fairly nice and I assume will take on some color as the algae develops. And it will eventually be partially hidden by whatever corals I grow. So my questions are: Should I spend money for 20 lbs or so of cured live rock < I would for sure> and how long will it take for the live sand to seed the base rock with<much faster since you will be adding my animals in the new rock> and without adding new rock?<Much slower process the animals will tend to stay in the sand bed more than venture to the dead base rock> Is there anything I should be adding besides B-Ionic as I go through this?<That should be plenty, maybe iodine, & strontium. Eric> Thanks! Matt

Parasites As Houseguests? Good Morning, <Hello! Scott F. with you today> I have an unusual situation which involves an unknown parasite...  At first I though they were pods, but not too sure now...This past weekend I purchased an additional 10lbs of cured rock for my 2 month old tank.  Yesterday, I came home and found a swarm of pinhead size parasites swimming at the top of the tank... what's unusual about this is they disappear when I turn off the lights.  They are quite small but appear to be white/opaque and/or reddish in color (in fact I noticed a red one attached to my Chromis) not sure if the lights in the tank are playing tricks on me.  Anyway, my Yellow Tang appears to have white spots on his fins now (not sure if the ich is related to the parasites I just described), and unusually, my cleaner shrimp has been spending his whole time on the new live rock.  I tested the water, and everything seems normal... water temp at 78degress...  any thoughts what this might be? Andy Volkoff <Hmm.. Interesting situation, Andy. It's hard to say what the "pinhead-sized" creatures were...Maybe not parasites, but possibly some sort of small crustacean or worm? Possibly harmless, but hard to say from here. A picture would be very helpful...I think that the Ich on the tang may be coincidental. or not. If the rock came from a healthy, fish-less system, it seems unlikely, though not impossible for the Cryptocaryon parasite to be present...I'd keep a close eye on the tank for a while to see if any of the other fishes become ill... I'm glad that the cleaner shrimp seems "interested" in whatever is on that rock...You may need to resort to more drastic actions (such as letting the tank run "fallow", while treating the affected fishes elsewhere) if a widespread ich outbreak occurs. Otherwise, careful observation is your best ally right now...Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

- Adding Live Rock, Follow-up - Great help buddy. I just wanted to let you know that I will be getting cured rock from Big Al's here in Edmonton and it will only be out of water for a max of 1/2 an hour or so. <Excellent, gotta love plug and play live rock.> Things should move along fairly quickly now. In addition I am getting the Aqua-C remora with MJ-1200 this weekend and the stand is almost complete. now I am working on the QT tank and studding on the acclimation info. I sent another question on that topic previously to this message, so maybe you could intercept that as well. <I'll see if I can find it, but don't be surprised if you get another response from someone else!> When you get a chance of course. Cheers Kev. <Enjoy! -Kevin>

Live rock in an Eclipse-hooded tank? <Hi! Ananda here this afternoon...> I have an Eclipse hood on a 30G tank. <I have one on a 25g brackish tank.> Using the standard 2 20-watt bulbs (Marine-Glo & Power-Glo) <Okay. If you want more apparent light, when you replace these bulbs, try to find ones with internal reflectors. They do make a difference.> No room for anything else, I can't change the lighting. <Not without a heckuva lotta work, and some risk, no.> Fish ONLY tank, no corals or inverts. <Okay.> Would live 20 lbs of live rock work in this environment? <Yep. It will definitely help your tank.> Would it be better to use decorative rock (would rather not)? <Depends on what you mean by "decorative rock". If you mean "dead rock intended to decorate a freshwater tank", definitely go with live rock! If you mean "decorative"-quality live rock, well, sometimes it might come with stuff that needs more lighting than you have. If you mean decorative live rock, and you plan to order online, talk to the person who's going to pick out your live rock and tell them what kind of setup you have. They'll find it easier to pick out appropriate stuff that way.> Pros / cons? <Pros: Better bio-filtration and a "more natural" environment for your fish, more cool stuff to look at in the tank, better water quality, ...the list goes on. Do quarantine your live rock for a month after you get it so you can make sure there are no nasties living in it (ich, carnivorous crabs, other undesirables). Cons: Few that cannot be avoided. You can find live rock quite inexpensively online (shop around!), and quarantining it will help keep any nasties out of your tank and make it easier to catch any large hitchhiking critters that you don't want in the tank. Have fun with your rock! --Ananda>

-Live rock?!- thank you for your response <Happy to help> live rock??? never really thought about it... do I put live rock in the filter or in the tank??? <Right in the tank! Check out http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm and Bob and Anthony's new book Reef Invertebrates for more info. Good luck! -Kevin> thanks again aloha Reid

Something drilling into live rock - 9/4/03 Our tank has been set up for about 6 years and recently we noticed a couple of live rocks being "drilled" into...<Hmmmmm.> We can see the hole and also grit and sand under it. <Hmmmm.....have you done a visual with the lights out?>  I have not had any luck looking up into the holes or seeing what is causing it. <Keep trying. You're bound to catch the guilty party>  Should I be concerned? <Have you added any livestock or rock recently?> Our fish are all healthy but a clam died over night after being healthy the day before. <Interesting. Any "drilling" on the shell? Postmortem report?>  The other clam which is much larger is doing great still. <Keep an eye.>  All  levels check out great. <Very good.>  It could be coincidence that we lost the clam <Actually, very possible. Clams have been known to crash for various reasons from starvation to fluctuating chemistry> but I am curious to find out what is making a home in my rock after all these years. <There are a great many creatures that could do such damage to live rock. More than likely something that either utilizes some type of algae for nutrition but could just as easily be something eating your zooplankton (mine hide in little caves in my liverock). Also, I have been hearing of liverock dissolving over time as well. This is likely not an issue your encountering but....well.....something o think about. Frequently check when lights are out, but unfortunately, I can offer little help without more information. Please keep me informed and updated on the goings on. Good luck. -Paul>                             Thank You for your time                                    Heather Gosling

Something is going on with my live rock - 9/25/03 Hi; <Sorry for the delay. I have been on vacation and only arrived back a couple of days ago>  I have been looking with a flashlight every night since I received your reply and I have not seen anything that might have made these holes. <Hmmmmm.... How old is this live rock? Some say old live rock disintegrates over time. So if this rock has been in your possession for some time, who knows how long or old it was before you got it.....Could just be slowly disintegrating>  We took the rock out to look at it and put it back in the holes are all over it and are the size of a nickel to a quarter and perfectly round. <Not sure what to tell you here>  We did see 2 worms one very long bright green one that had a tan tail (size around of an inch worm.) also the same size around but shorter a brown and tan striped worm both were out of holes in rock but the holes were pinhead size and several clear shrimp and tiny (1/4"or smaller) worms. <Not likely to be the problem in my opinion> Any more suggestions as to what we could do? <Not too sure what this could be. I still feel it could be animal related, but just not sure what> Oh and yes we have purchased some corals just before this started happening so it is possible there was a hitchhiker. <Yeah, but without seeing someone chowing' down on the rock you don't want to act too hastily> I didn't see any holes bored into the clam shell so I think it was coincidence. <Agreed>  Any help you could provide would be wonderful. <I will check around and see what I can find and let you know> I don't want to lose all my live rock to holes from whatever it is. Below is the previous message and reply. <Sorry for the lack of an answer but...... I will try to get back to you soon. In the meantime, keep on lookin and searching. Paul> Thank You   Heather Gosling

-Atlantic live rock hitch-hiker- I recently purchased a 10lb live rock (Atlantic aqua cultured) which seemed to relatively sparse of life. As with all live rock, there are some things that weren't present at first now showing themselves. I have a question about this one because I have not seen anything in my two months of reading that indicates what this might be. So my best to describe it to you since I don't think I can get a decent picture. <ok> It appears to have very long tentacles, which stretch out from a central point at the base of the rock. These tentacles are a pink/salmon color, and have no visible cilia. The tentacles are thinner at their outward ends, and slightly thicker at the base. They seem to move around, expand and contract, and are responsive to light. These tentacles are very thin in comparison to their length, some appear to be 8 inches or more in length with no more than 1/10th an inch in diameter at the base. <I'd wager that it's a polychaete commonly called a spaghetti worm. You'd notice that it can reach out for a small piece of food, then reel it in with one or more of its arms> I understand that in the future I should quarantine any life form to be introduced into my tank, but I am at a very early stage (started just over a month ago) and have been just placing the rocks into a bare tank. I have no fish, only one coral and three crabs, all of which were additions made with live rock. I am concerned with this particular item because it is able to reach out so far. If it is a stinging celled animal, I am not sure what kind, or what to do to eliminate it if that is the best course of action. <No need to worry, completely harmless and beneficial> As always any information you can provide is very much appreciated! John <Good luck! -Kevin>

-Live rock hitch-hiking corals- WWM crew!!!! <Kevin here> Thanks again for the tremendous knowledge you guys give on this site and also in your books. Your knowledge and advise have yet to be matched. So once again thank you. <On behalf of the entire crew, you are very welcome!> I have a 120 gallon reef tank with 84 lbs. of Kaelini rock, 30 lbs. of Fiji rock, and aprox. 12 lbs. of Tonga rock. Live sand with 17 hermit crabs and 10 Turbo snails. I am running a Cascade 1500 <Never heard of this one...> filter and 2 CPR BakPak 2 protein skimmers. 1 maxi-jet 900 and 3 maxi-jet 1200's for water movement. My lighting consists of a 48" Custom Sealife Power compact. 2 10,000K daylights, 2 ultra antic, and 4 moonlights (very cool looking if I do say so myself). Also I am almost obsessive compulsive with the water changes so the water quality is good by most standards. I have tons of questions however I will limit it to 1 tonight as it is getting late. On a piece on the first piece of Fiji rock I put in the tank looks what appears to be a very small Xenia stalk is this possible?? I know anything is possible. <Yep, anything's possible, but I doubt that xenia could survive the vigor's that rock goes through as they can barely survive being shipped normally> But I am curious as to how. Was is seeded in the rock along time ago and survived the trip to my humble abode. Or is it a natural occurrence that comes with perfect water conditions?? <They ruled out spontaneous generation a long time ago, so it definitely came with your rock. Some coral can survive the journey on dry live rock quite well and blossom into large colonies once established. Without a picture I care not to guess what it is, but if everything goes as expected, it should take off in no time. Good luck! -Kevin> Thanks for all you do ~~Jason~~

LR-critters In my 45 gallon, 45Lb Fiji LR, 45 Lb live sand tank, I have a serious cleanup crew, 2 Pepp. shrimp, 1 emerald crab, 2 chocolate chip stars, 2 false clowns, and 1 queen conch...I have noticed a coupe snails...who have stayed alive, and not placed by me in the system.  they are growing and one is roughly up to about 2 mm in length... guestimate!  They are 2 toned striped lightish brown/khaki with the other stripe being a little darker brown. <probably a Nassarius species>   They make their way around the rock and sand...mostly rock.  Any ideas?  The other things I am trying to ID might be a little tougher.  I find them mostly floating on the top of the tank, and don't seem alive.  The are small maybe 1 mm long tubular things that from afar look like worm segments.  Up closer they look tubular still...but...one side of them looks transparent, and they other much darker and opaque. The transparent end almost looks like a tail, and comes to a point...while the darker end is more rounded.  It has equidistant segments to it...with microscopic points (seem under magnifying glass) coming out of the side in am almost flat tubular body(?) shape.  they crunch and flatten when squeezed between fingers (exoskeleton?)...nothing in the tank eats them to the best of my knowledge...and like I said are mostly found floating.  I have tried to be as descriptive as possible, and hope you can help!  Steve <well these just sound like helpful organisms that come along with the LR... no worries my friend, IanB>

Assorted Reef Growths - 8/13/03 Hello Bob! I've not spoken with you in some time. Hope all is well as can be with you. <Anthony Calfo in his stead... Bob is right now sun-tanning nude in Indonesia as we speak> I went back to college and already knocked out two semesters (4.0, no less - better than last time). Am working on a masters of science in applied history and a degree in geology. Hope to teach at the college level then move on to museum/archive mgt./document work, etc. <kudos... onward and upward> But...still fishin' as well. Question: I just brought home some of the most awesome Tonga live rock. It is in the final curing stage. Two things I'm not sure about.....1) forams; Homotrema rubrum. What are they? Got lots of 'em. <they are simple protozoans... related to amoebas... harmless filter-feeders. Do enjoy> 2) I have a lime green calcareous growth that is spread like coralline; is that what it is? Sure looks that way. It's gorgeous mixed in with the red, purple and pink. Could be sponge(?) <We could not say without a pic and better description of behavior, texture, visage, etc> This is the 46 Oceanic bow. 40 lbs. of Samoan white sand and 42 lbs. of the Tonga rock. Will house more tame species - six-line wrasse, orchid dotty, a blenny, a goby or two, Chromis, a clown, and the usual assorted crusties. Regards, from  David A. Bell <best regards, Anthony>

Upkeep of Live Rock  (8-8-03) <Sorry for the delayed reply.  Cody here today.> I have 50lb. of Fiji live rock in my 55 gallon tank. I cured it myself for about 4 weeks and then put it into empty tank for about 4 more weeks. I have one 65 watt Actinic and one 65 watt 10000K. I am beginning to add calcium to the system. My question is how do I keep my LR looking good. I see many pictures of tank that in descriptions say they have Fiji live rock but when you look at the rock it is all brown with almost no purple, green, or pink algae on it. I want to know how I can keep all my purple, green, and pink algae alive for years to come. <Just keep your calcium at the right level and keep up on frequent water changes.  A clean up crew would help keep the rock clean of nuisance algae.> My rock is covered on almost all sides of thick algae growth. I also add Kent Marine Essential Elements. Should I be adding anything else like Iodine or Iron. <All I would be adding to the water for trace supplements is calcium; other wise just keep up on your water changes and everything else should be ok.  I would invest in a good test kit before you add too much calcium or anything else for that matter and monitor how much the animals use and go from there.> Last question, What is the best overall diet for tangs? I would like to keep the tangs bright and happy. I have used vitamins like Kent Marine Zoe for Angel but tangs like seaweed and veggies. What brand has a lot of Vitamin C in their frozen or flake food. Thank you so much for answering all my question so quickly. You respond quicker then any other site. <Just make sure they get plenty of veggies.  Also stay away from lettuce, spinach… and stick to foods of marine origin. Cody> Thanks again, Andy

Live Rock Do I need established salt water to put cured live rock in or can I start with a fresh batch of mixed salt water.  Brian Cooper <You can add live rock to freshly mixed salt water, just be sure it is mixed/heated/aerated in a separate mixing container.-Gage>

LR and Snails (8-4-03) Hi guys, Is it O.K. for my turbo snails to graze on my live rock?? Will they harm it?? <Nope, they are just eating the algae.  Cody> Thanks

What's this stuff on my live rock? >Marina~ >>Yes, Steve? >I have a question for you concerning my live rock.  It looks like there is some small whitish looking fluffy stuff starting to grow on it.  It looks like it is starting to grow on the rocks that already have coralline on them.  It also looks like little white globs of it, the almost look fluffy.  Any ideas? >>Tunicates?  Or...?  Any pics?  I'm not too good with the ID stuff of unknowns, but we now have one brilliant Chris Maupin who might be able to help out.

Enough Live Rock? <Hello, JasonC here...> First, thanks for the quick and reassuring answer to the seahorse quandary. <Then I hope you'll accept our apology for the slow reply this time.> You did say something that sparked another question however... While my goal is obviously to triple (or more) the 150lbs of live rock in this 150gal invert tank, (of course, over time, as this is a budget issue) You said that 150lbs would not be sufficient over the long term... Did you mean that a 150gal tank simply needs much more live rock to eventually become a successful Berlin system? <Actually, I take exception to that, but I'm also not the person who said it. One pound per gallon is more than sufficient. More live rock doesn't hurt but at some point, you end up displacing more water than is practical and likewise you will run out of places for your charges to swim. I'd rather have more water than rock.> Or did you mean that this one animal would chow his way through that, leaving it barren and depleted? <Again, I feel the original statement was in error - the live rock you have will produce copious amounts of food over time. Do keep in mind that rock and substrate does loose some of its original 'umph' after about a year so plan on replacing 25-50% every 12 to 18 months.> Is it a monster? <Not at all.> Was it a mistake? <No.> Let me spell out my goals so you can better advise. I am sold on the reef concept, with the exception of live corals. The direction I am moving in is to have all of the live rock of a reef, and all of the reef-safe creatures/fish without venturing into the lighting/live coral frontier. <Fair enough.> So far, 10 large snails, 50 blue leg hermits, 2 serpent stars, 6 assorted shrimp, 1 horseshoe crab, 1 mandarin, & the seahorse. He was an impulse buy. Was it a mistake? <I don't think so, no worries.> or will I be able to safely add these? Please advise, as I may have misread you message, giving me the impression that he was a grazing nightmare. <I think all will be fine. The mandarin will compete with the seahorse for food, but in a tank of this size with the livestock you list, there is little to no competition otherwise so this sounds like a fine mix to me.> Thanks,  Your confused friend in CT, -Pat   <Cheers, J -- >

Curing Live Rock First I just want to say thanks for the quick response to a question I had a week ago.  I purchased your book and have enjoyed the reading, but have spent way too much time on this site reading the articles and FAQ. <The new book?  Just got mine the other day, it rocks.> Now to my question, I am in the process of setting up a 180gal system that I intend to be a FOWLR.  I have two corner overflows in the tank with four 1" drains to a sump with 2 Genx pumps for return.  The skimmer is an ASM G-2x and the lighting is and Icecap 660 with 3 5' VHO bulbs.  I want to add the live rock this weekend (probably about 150 lbs (enough?)) <Sounds good> And I stumbled across a wholesaler/retailer about 2 miles from my work.  He sells primarily rock from Haiti that is brought to him each week.  The rock is raw and about two days out of the water when he gets it.  Would it be too much of a mess to use this raw rock for cycling the tank?  Too much die off, or just more work with water changes? <Exactly, a little too raw, you're tank will cycle really hard, not to mention, there is a lot to be said for curing rock in a separate vessel, especially getting rid of unwanted hitchhikers before they enter your main tank.> Do you see any other pitfalls in my system setup?  I intend to add a refugium from a 20gal glass tank but that might be down the road some.  Thanks so much for your insights. <Sounds good to me.  There are a ton of FAQs on cycling live rock. http://wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm If you have not checked it out yet, it's a good read.  Best Regards, Gage>

Live rock vs. hermit crabs >I have two 55 gallon tank and 45lbs. of Fiji live rock that is curing. In one tank I have 25 blue legged hermit crabs and in the other I have no hermit crabs. If I put half the rock in each tank will it be ok with the hermit crabs? >>I don't see why not. >I know that they are "reef safe" but at one time I had 10lbs. of live rock in the tank with 10 blue legged hermits and they ate the rock to death. The algae and growth was gone. >>Try feeding them directly, especially add a small chunk of shrimp, Nori, or the like (anything that will stay whole while they eat at it).  This should provide enough of a diversion for them.  Do remember to provide them a few extra shells should they get tired of their current "flat". >Also, what is you favorite way to set up a tank? I might be getting a 100 gallons and I'm not sure if I want to go with canister filter, wet/dry, or a good size sump. Thanks for all the help, Andy >>Well, since you're starting from scratch, I suggest looking into utilizing a refugium.  I really love the natural methods of reefkeeping, and a 'fuge is one of the best.  Start on our homepage, look in "marine aquarium articles", then in "set up".  Just TRY shaking a stick at all that's there!  ;)  Best of luck!  Marina

Adding Live rock to F.O. system... >Good day Wet-Webbers, >>And good day to you, Lenny.  Marina here. >I have a 140 gal. F.O. system using Bio-balls/Protein Skimmer w/ 50/50 Actinic fluorescent lighting.  I have an aggressive tank w/ lion, purple tang, emperor angel, Foxface, harlequin tusk and Clown trigger.  Is it possible to add a large piece of Live Rock to my tank without changing lighting (or if so, enLIGHTEN me)  I thought doing this would help bring my nitrates down and secondly allow my herbivores to graze on the rock.   >>Of course you can.  Live rock generally requires no lighting unless it has photosynthetic animals or algae upon it that you wish to grow.  However, do know that if it is encrusted with such, it will quickly be consumed.  Also, please know that in order to reduce nitrates, you will need an amount of live rock equal to 1-2lbs./gallon of total tank volume.  A more efficient way to garner natural nitrate reduction would be to plumb in a refugium, where you can put in live rock, a deep sand bed (a.k.a. DSB), and grow macroalgae cultures that will help sop up excess nutrients, and they'll be removed via harvest of said algae.  Please search our site for all articles and FAQ's on refugiums (I do prefer this methodology to plenums) for complete setup and maintenance information.  Also, don't let anyone try to tell you that the wet-dry filtration method is a "nitrate factory".  You will end up with nitrates no matter WHAT method of nitrification is used, and their reasoning is logical fallacy, true sophistry.  What is needed is a method by which the nitrates can be further reduced to their components, ending with nitrogen gas.  This is well-executed utilizing the refugium with DSB. >Right now my tank has lava rock and skeleton coral with Puka shell (Aruba) substrate. >>Begin on our homepage http://www.wetwebmedia.com -->go to "marine aquarium articles" -->go to "set-up" -->go to the sections on natural nitrate reduction, plenums (you'll see what a PITA they are), deep sand beds, and refugia articles.  There's more information there than you can shake a stick at, and by the time you're finished you'll practically be an expert (ex-spurt?)!  Best of luck to you!  Marina

Don or WWM crew - thanks for response. I'm at around 1.2 lbs of LR & LS, and I will start with this ratio. <Live sand is a bit of a different issue. You want less than 1" or more than 4-6". The depths in between are likely to cause problems. Search for 'live sand' on WetWebMedia.com to find discussions of substrate depths.> I think I'll carefully monitor the nitrogen cycle of the tank as I add livestock to see what's happening to see a plateau in the amount of the nitrogen the tank can cycle. If I do, and I'm under stocked (not necessarily a bad thing), <Yes indeed, as the fish are going to grow to their maximum size regardless. A 2" fish today may be 10" in a few years. Some are messy eaters, others not. All this will factor into your equation.> then I'll need to add more live something (but no bioballs or other nitrate factories, thank you.) <Agreed> If I don't see a plateau then I'll stick with the 1.2. <As always, a rule of thumb is exactly that. A starting point. I think your logical approach and problem solving skills are going to benefit you in this endeavor. <G> > Really, math is fun :) <Mmmmmm-hmmmmmm, give me a quadratic to solve any day!> SLC

Uncured Rock Causing Mayhem! Hello WWM team! <Hey there! Scott F. at your service tonight> I have had a problem for the last couple weeks, and now I know what's causing it.  I do 15% water changes weekly, and I noticed that every time I perform the change, my water becomes cloudy...It cleared up in a day or 2. My ammonia is higher than it should be 1.3 and nitrite is climbing fast 0.8 <Not good to see at all...> My question is that I listened to my LFS when they told me the rock was cured (22 pounds), but I don't think it was. My tank had a foul odor last week but that has gone away. <Sounds like your hunch was right on...> I have been adding ammonia remover (Amquel) every other day and that has kept the ammonia reasonable ( <0.3 ) and water changes along with bacteria twice a week has helped my NO2. <Good moves on your part> Am I just prolonging the curing process by using these chem.s? If my tank wasn't stocked I wouldn't be so concerned (3 fish, inverts, and corals) All are doing OK <Wow- that's fortunate...Do keep a close eye on things. Since you have animals in the tank, you cannot be blamed for doing what you can to get these toxins down. I'd keep monitoring things, and simply don't add any more life for a while. If possible, I'd hold on water changes until ammonia seems to subside.>   Can having this Un cured rock affect my PH level? <Well, organic accumulation and decay can affect pH by driving it down over time. Again- kept monitoring your water chemistry, crank up the protein skimmer, and embrace good husbandry techniques- should work out fine! Regards, Scott F>

Hooked on LR Math Hello - I'm curious where the full-blown-reef custom of using 1-1.5-2 lbs of live rock per gallon ratio came from? <Most likely from the experiences of those reef keepers that have come before us. Also the depth of the reef keepers pocket book! <G> > It would seem to me that a more accurate calculation could be made by calculating, say, the total amount of fish-inches per lb in a tank, and also factoring whether you're using very porous Fiji rock with arguably tons more bacteria per lb than a much less porous, mature and habituated 'base' rock ? <I don't disagree with what you are saying. With that, I believe that there are still too many variables for a one fits all calculation. Beside, I am a true believer in experience! Don> Thanks for any input, SLC

Unknown creatures in the water!  (6/20/03) <Hello! Cody here today!> I recently purchased some live rock. Now I have small creatures, numbering in the hundreds, crawling in and out of my substrate, live rock, and everywhere else then can get to.  They are a little bigger then a mosquito. They have a very long "tail?" and scurry around at knight.   It looks like they are effecting the live rock but I'm not sure.<At first they just sounded like harmless copepods but if they are affecting the live rock they may be something different.  Let me know how they are effecting the rock and a picture would be great.  Cody>                                     Help!                                         Thanks,                                                Kevin

Re: small unknowns in the water (6/22/03) Thank you for the info. You are right . I found a picture of one type. It's the same. As for the live rock, I don't see the different growths that it had when I bought it. I'm not sure what is going on. <Many things will die off and grow over the years which is one of the most interesting things about live rock.  I've even heard of octopuses emerging after months of the rock being in the tank. Cody> Again, thank you, Kevin

Live rocks Dying? Hi just happen to chance upon your wonderful website while I was surfing for a solution to my 5 days old 2ft marine tank. I bought some live rocks about 3 days ago but noticed that now they seem to be developing whitish/greyish slime on certain areas and when I remove this layer of slime the underneath shows a very dark patch. <The rock you bought is "uncured". This means that it still contains die-off (likely sponge) from when it was shipped.> The rocks in general seems to be crumbling as well there seem to be a lot of loose bits coming off .. is the rock dying? <Heh, no, there's just some stuff that needs to rot, that's all.> or is it this some sort of a funky marine growth? what can do to stop or even reverse the situation ... are live rocks easy to maintain <Check out our curing FAQ's for what you need to do: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/morelrcurefaqs.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs3.htm , http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs4.htm > thanks for your help!! <Enjoy, and start looking in to a protein skimmer! -Kevin> cheers Danny

Rockin' In The Free World... I have a 90 gal tank with 90 lbs Kaelini rock,  and aprox 3" aragonite fine sand bed (increasing that to 4+") that has been running since 1/10/03. I currently have 1 coral beauty and an assortment of snails and crabs. I have not been in any hurry to stock as I would like to get the DSB, live rock, lighting and filtration up and running hopefully correctly. <Awesome approach! And, you'll see a greater diversity of life arise and reproduce from the rock in an environment with limited "predators"> We have decided to add 36 lbs of Tonga deepwater live rock. I plan to cure it obviously in a separate tank until nh3, nitrates and nitrites = 0. Can I add all 36lbs of rock to my show tank once it is cured? <Sure...I would...> Is it all right to mix the two different types of live rock and do you think the Tonga is a good choice to put in? <I don't see a problem, unless you're absolutely dead set on a "biotopic" presentation, featuring only animals an fish from a specific locale...Hey, as far as I'm concerned, rock is an aesthetic item, and I wouldn't get too stressed out about it...Tonga rock is beautiful, IMO> After this I plan on adding an anemone, some clownfish and then coral. Am I going about this the right way? <There's nothing wrong at all with your slow, steady, and methodical approach to stocking your system! Just make sure that you can provide for the unique requirements of the anemone, and you should be fine> Thanks as always for your help. <My pleasure! Regards, Scott F>

Parasites- On The Rocks! Dear Crew, <Scott F. your crew member tonight> Thank you for the great web site.  I learn something new every time I visit. <Glad to hear that! We enjoy bringing it to you!> I have a question concerning Live Rock and Oodinium. On May 10th of this year, the last of my fish had succumb to what I suspect was an Oodinium outbreak.  The symptoms were little white flecks (salt crystal sized), rapid breathing of the fish, and the disappearance/reappearance of these white flecks every 4-5 days after their "disappearance." <Actually, with the exception of the rapid breathing, it sounds a lot like ich...Amyloodinium ("Velvet") is a far more lethal disease than ich. It's really hard to discern the individual parasites with Amyloodinium...looks more like a fine "dusting"...affected fishes will display rapid breathing, listlessness, and other distinct symptoms. And, in the absence of quick intervention, they die with remarkable rapidity.> My questions are: I'm moving and cannot (unfortunately) take my aquarium with me.  My dad also has a saltwater aquarium and would love to get the live rock and anything else from my tank.  Is it possible that the possible Oodinium parasites could be in a latent stage on the live rock and therefore introduce it into his tank? <Yes- they could...it's best to let this rock sit in a tank or container without fishes for at least a month. Most of the parasites that could be present would potentially die without hosts (fishes)...They would be unable to complete their life cycle> Is it possible to wait two months following the last live fish in my current tank to allow the Oodinium parasites to hatch and die for it to finally be safe to put the live rock into another tank? (Bad phrasing of the question, I'm sorry). <Your point got through fine! And, yes- it's a very good idea to do that!> Is it safe to put soft corals into a tank that contains a Pomacanthus Angel Fish (Queen Angel)?   Hard to say...Some may sample-some won't. If you like your softies, I'd err on the side of caution and avoid this combination...Or- you could take a small "frag" off of one of the corals and place it in the tank with the Queen Angel, and see how he/she does with it...It's a risk that you may or may not want to take...your call here>    I hope you are able to understand all my questions and address my concerns.  Thanks again for your website.  Mr.  Fenner, your book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarium" is fantastic. Eric Rayman <I'll be sure to pass on the good word Bob...Thanks! Your thoughts were right on target, as far as being patient with the rock is concerned....Hang in there! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Liverock, Shaw's cowfish, and a temperate aquarium >Hi Bob, >>Good morning, Sal.  Marina is here for you this morning. >I hope you are well. >>I will make an assumption that Bob is, indeed, doing well, and I would say that I'm doing well, as well.  I hope you are well as well, too. >I'm interested in keeping a Shaw's cowfish (Aracana aurita).  He will be in a 75 gallon tank.  This tank will have to be kept cool for this cowfish.  Can I keep live rock in this tank for the main filtration device, or would 68 degrees be too cold for it?  Should I just use a trickle filter?  Thank you very much for your advice. >>Hhmm.. good questions, all of them.  Well, 68 would definitely be the low end of the temperature spectrum for *tropical* live rock, that is to say live rock that has been grown and harvested in tropical waters.  However, being as how that is so close the 70F range, I'd be quite curious to try it, even just a little bit might yield interesting results.  Generally, though, we can say with a fair degree of certainty that it would be ineffective to attempt to utilize that tropical live rock in a "temperate" setting (albeit on the high end of the scale). I would go with a deep sand bed for primary filtration, including denitrification, with copious foam fractionation.  To get it well on its way *before* I added the fish I would begin a "fishless" cycle--using shrimp or similar tossed into the tank to create a source for ammonia and so on. I hope this has helped, and best of luck!  Marina

"Fire" and Live Rock Thanks for all of your great information and quick responses.  I have a "situation".  Recently I ordered 180 pounds of live Kaelini rock and it arrived in beautiful condition with lots of color and attached organisms.  The rock was placed in a large 55 gallon container with a heater, power head, and lighting and all were connected to a power strip.  To make a long story short, two days later a "fire" occurred apparently at the power strip and melted part of the container and some of the melted debris from the light strip fell into the water along with some of the melted plastic. <Not unusual enough... these strips come in a few formats... some are very "safe", others must be placed where water cannot get into them (mounted vertically on a wall, high up> Needless to say, it was quite a mess.  Luckily, I was able to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher! <Yay!> I immediately removed the rock and put it in fresh salt water; however, I did not have a replacement power head until the next day.  I also added charcoal in a mesh bag and have replaced it every other day. My question is:  Do you think the rock will survive and will be able to be used in my tank? <Almost certainly yes>   I am afraid that chemicals were released into the water or the extinguisher material could have poisoned the rock-----even though it wasn't sprayed into the water.   A lot of the color is gone from the rock at this time but there is still a little present.  I am not sure if that is due to the curing process or if it is due to the fire.   Any suggestions? Thanks, James <Just to monitor ammonia, nitrite... when the rock is cured, place it. Bob Fenner>

Live rock covered in a black plague! Aloha WWM Crew, Thanks for the wonderful service you provide. <Happy to be of help!>  I have a 55 gallon FOWLR that's been running for about 9 months.  Over the past couple months I noticed numerous black spots on the live rock.  Some of the patches are getting to be about 1" in diameter.  When I scrape it off the rocks it seems to spread even quicker. <Ew>  What is this stuff? <Most likely an algae of some sort> It is black or a very dark green algae and only appears on the rocks.  One of the rocks is completely covered with the black stuff.  I have scrubbed that rock with a toothbrush, but it comes back thicker.   Please help.   <I have no clue what kind of algae that is. I'd pick up a diadema urchin; if it's an algae, the urchin will go to town on it. Make sure it gets enough to eat though, I just watched mine munch a path through an encrusting Montipora! Try some big snails, the diadema urchin, and even a lawnmower/algae blenny if you do not have really aggressive fish and/or crustacean eaters. Also make sure that you are using water purified by either reverse osmosis or deionization (or both) and that there is no detectable phosphate in your tank water. You may also wish to add some macroalgae such as Caulerpa to help steal nutrients away from this plague stuff. Also (boy am I getting long winded!) make sure that your protein skimmer is functioning correctly, that you have one of adequate size for your aquarium, and that you... well... have one, I'd strongly recommend it. Hope this is of some help, maybe take some pictures. -Kevin> Mahalo, Jeff Lace rock as base rock Hi, I'm setting up the DSB for my 200g reef tank. I purchased dead rock from my LFS advertised as "lace rock", safe for both fresh and salt water. I was planning on using this a foundation or base rock, mostly to cover up the bottom of my supplies and returns which come from the bottom of the tank. I was going to put it on the bottom of the tank and surround with it sand. Are there any issues about having barriers in the DSB? Do I have to be concerned about having free movement within the DSB? <It would be best to make sure the rock is stable then fill the sand up around it, this will prevent rocks toppling over incase any future inhabitants decide to excavate under the rock.> Can you think of any reason why I should be suspicious about this rock or not use it? <I would not use dead rock, from everything I have read, and been told you will be inviting a nuisance algae problem.  It spend the extra money for Live Rock, a good investment for the future of your tank.  Best Regards, Gage> As always, your help is much appreciated.

White Puff Balls on LR My wife and I, both novices, are into our 11th month with our new reef tank when we noticed a white, cotton like, puff ball growing under/onto part of a live rock.  When we asked our fish store expert about it he suggested it may be a type of "Tunicate" and told us  not to worry and also gave us your web site address.<I too have had this mysterious white stuff on my LR...I believe it may be some type of sponge (angelfish loved it).  Going through some "FAQ'S" I noticed one hobbyist said he found some "white puff balls" on his bio balls in his filtration system but there was no explanation as to what they were in the conversation.  Can you enlighten us as to what this is? <A picture would help greatly>  It started out small, about the size of an M&M, and now it is close to 3/4's the size of a ping pong ball.<again, I believe it maybe a species of sponge>  It is not exactly round and has very small black specks, like pepper, on the exterior of its' body.  I appreciate any help you can provide.  Thanks.<your welcome, IanB>

Re: White Puff Balls 5/23/03 Thanks Ian. <Anthony Calfo with the follow up... Ian is quite likely correct. And specifically they are Syconoid sponges of the genus "Sycon". Very common. Use these names for a google search of our archives... some of the FAQ pages have pics to compare to. Kind regards to all>

Making The Switch (To FOWLR) Hello Guys <Hi! Scott F. here for you today!> I was considering moving my 60 gallon FOWI tanks to a FOWLR setup. I currently am using a coral substrate and want to get rid of this and use a sand bed instead as I read that it is much more stable in the nitrification process. This is my setup... Prime Canister filter Power heads x 2 UGF filter Air pump Coral substrate Some calcareous rocks from the sea few damsels blennies and clowns 3 shrimp 1 anemone I am currently looking out for a skimmer. <Definitely an important acquisition!> I am considering driving down to a spot on the reefs on the East coast to collect some Live Sand and rocks which a friend has directed me to go to. Will this be OK if quarantined properly ? There are no laws in this country regarding this coz saltwater hobbyists are extremely scarce. <Well, I would still check, just to make sure. The real consideration when collecting from the wild is the impact on the environment from which you are collecting. Please be very conscientious of the potential for damage, and take only what you need. As far as handling- yes- you should employ the generally accepted procedures outlined here on WWM for handling, quarantining, and curing fresh live rock...Please think this over very carefully before collecting> Will there be an ammonia spike if I do this ? <In all likelihood, there will be some type of spike, due to the abundant nutrients that will be imported through fresh live rock and loss of sand bed....Monitor water chemistry very carefully, okay?> Could you give a run down on what needs to be done to make the move. I will move my little ones to a quarantine tank before anything. Thank You. Personal Regards, Mark <Well, Mark, I'd proceed slowly. I'd start by setting up a "holding tank" or facility for the fishes and other animals, then continue with the removal of most (not all) of the substrate, adding the new rock, and then carefully adding the live sand to a minimum depth of 3-4 inches (preferably more). You'd need to monitor the water chemistry for a few weeks to make sure that the nitrite and/or ammonia levels remain in check, and fall to undetectable levels before adding the fishes again. A protein skimmer is very important, as it will help process the abundant nutrients that will be introduced on the live rock...Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

Adding old live rock to a new tank Hello guys, and thanks for the time, <Welcome back, Rocky> I thoroughly searched the site for information pertaining to this question before asking it, so I'll prematurely apologize if I missed the answer and this turns into a redundant post. <Hey, don't worry. I gotta do something this morning and mowing the lawn is not at the top of the list!!> Anyways, I recently upgraded from a 40 to 120 gallon tank.  After adding 4" of base sand a month ago and seeding it with 1/2" of live, I added 70 lbs. of Walt smith Fiji premium.  To be honest, only 30 lbs. was cured; the other 40 I threw in fresh out of the box one week ago.    <Should be OK as long as you removed any dead/decaying material first.> Now, I am adding LR from my 40 gallon a piece at a time, spacing the additions about 2-3 days apart.     These pieces are very saturated with coralline, and I'm wondering if I should expect significant die-off of the algae.  If so, what steps can I take to prevent this from happening?    The new tank has only 30 watt bulbs on it until I can finish the MH canopy, and the old tank had 2 55 watt PC bulbs.  I am trying to maintain very strong current in the new tank w/ powerheads until my ~1200 gph Iwaki closed loop pump arrives. To summarize, my question is how do I keep the coralline from dying in a new tank?  Can adding phyto or any other supplement help? <Can you find another light to throw on temporarily? Any kind of daylight lamp will do as a temporary measure. Maybe one of the 55s? Also, keep the water quality high with water changes, maintain acceptable calcium and alkalinity values and you should be OK. You will probably see some loss of coralline, but it should return quickly.> Thanks for your time, and all the help you've given me in the past, <Glad to share, and it sounds like you have a great start. Enjoy your new tank, Don> Rocky

Re: live rock Good morning crew: <Sorry for the delay but class has been killing me.......come to think of it so has my work> I bought 10lb of aquacultured <Huh? Do you mean farmed or already cycled?> live rock Monday morning, when I put it in the tank the water got a little cloudy (of course) so I went to bed. <Not a good methodology. I would always quarantine the rock separately for at least two weeks if not longer. I don't care how long it has been sitting in a dealers tank> When I woke up the following morning I found my green Chromis dead but my clowns were fine all my inverts fine, as well as my coral. <Hmmmmmm> So I checked my ammonia level and it was fine as well. So I did my water change like I do every week and I did a full water check and my water was fine, but my water is still cloudy. What could this be??? <Hard to say. Suspended particulate from the rock itself or possible from you substrate? Not sure really> I know Chromis do better in pairs and I only had one, so maybe he got a little lonely who knows??? <Yes....the Chromis death may be unrelated> But I'm still wondering about my cloudy water. <Yes indeed. Not really sure. I would change out more water if possible. Could be a few different things here. Do a search in with the google tool on our site and type "cloudy water" and see if any of the "hits" apply to you. Remember to quarantine and cycle any additions separate from the display tank whenever possible.> And by the way is a 44 gallon and  I have a Skilter (I know is not the best but it works great) and skimmer is working fine as well. <I actually am probably one of the few who don't mind the Skilter series. If you are willing to retro-fit and play with it then you can get great results from its use. I have seen some amazing tanks which employ Skilters> what could this be??? <Just not sure. Could be a great many things. Keep checking the water and maintain a strict water change regime with a good R/O source and be sure the water being added to the tank is the right PH, temp, density and salinity. Are you checking your PH, Alk, and Calcium? See if there has been recent or sudden shift. If you have questions regarding Calcium, Alkalinity, and PH and their proper levels in a marine tank please refer to here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marphalk.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/calcalkmar.htm and here as well: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/watrqualmar.htm plenty of links to read through as well. Sorry for the lack of a specific answer but there are just too many possibilities. Good luck! Paulma> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME!!!

Rub u dub dub How would I be able to tell what is dead and what is not when I scrub and cure my live rock will it look a certain way and what kind of brush should I use to scrub off all the dead creatures? < Well, as for alive and dead, generally if it comes off easily, I'd say it's dead. You want to remove sponges and any macro algae - with the following caveats. Sponges will die from having air trapped in them. But, if you put them in seawater and run them through a blender you can pour that into a container and the living cells will reform into a new colony. You could remove the colony and keep it in a QT tank till the rock cures. Be sure and not expose the sponge to air when you move it. As for macro algae, trim it down as much as possible, but if you want to, leave a little on the rock. If you light your curing tank you may be able to salvage the colony. Use a stiff bristle brush, you're not trying to scrub everything off the rock. Be sure and scrub it in a container with salt water. Use a powerhead to flush out the inner recesses of the rock, that should help also. When you're done, take a look at what comes off and see if there are any hitchhikers than can rescued. You could put them in a QT tank and get some more freebie critters for your new tank. Remember, the goal is to save as much life as possible, not sterilize the rock before putting it into your tank. Here's WWM page on LR: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm lots of useful information there. Hope that helps, and sorry if I rambled. Have a good weekend, PF>

Question on liverock life form Hi I have this light green ball about 1 inch round very small with almost like feather duster tentacles surrounding every inch of it like a ball of sun and it has one opening it sometimes expands to one inch then it shrinks? very weird never seen anything like it. If you have any ideas please e-mail me possibilities.  <I couldn't say for sure without a picture.  It does kind of sound like a button polyp.  You should be able to find a picture somewhere in the marine section at www.wetwebmedia.com.  Cody>

Adding live sand, or live rock to established system Hello, You have always helped me with questions in the past. My questions are --- I have an established reef tank and I was contemplating removing the crushed coral substrate and replacing with live sand. <Based on recent experience, remove all the water (using a high flow pump and plastic containers) and livestock, remove the old substrate, replace with sand and refill the tank. Return the livestock. If you don't have the tools to do this, I would wait until you do. Remember, 4" minimum and better 6" for the bed> Would this cause an ammonia spike or other problems to the fish and corals? <Should be OK. Make sure you have plenty of aged seawater on hand as you will likely need to do some water changes> And, I need to add more live rock, would adding too much at one time cause problems? <I would get a plastic tub, heater, power filter, a power head, and a cheap light and cure the rock for several weeks before introducing it into the main tank.> Also, I want to remove the bio-balls from the wet/dry and replace with live rock, would this be fine? <A good move in my opinion. Remove the bioballs a little at a time over a couple weeks. One more thing: you want to wait several weeks between making each of these changes. If you try to do all these things in a short period of time, you'll will have trouble.> Thank you for your help, Tim <My pleasure, Don>

Live rock turning white, algae Hello, I am new to saltwater and have a couple of questions. I have a 220 gallon tank with a power compact lighting system,96 watt x6. I have about an inch of crushed coral on the bottom and about 160 pounds of Fiji live rock. The ;I've rock has been in the tank about 3 weeks. I have noticed that some of the live rock is turning white. Also a day or two after I noticed it turning white brown algae started appearing all over the place (live rock, substrate, glass). I have checked the PH, salt, iron all that stuff everything is ok. I have been adding reef energizer, live rock food, and liquid calcium. Is the whiteness and algae normal? I have been leaving my lights on for about 12 hours a day. Also I have a Aquamedic sump tank and I am having the problem of little air bubbles coming out of the outtake tubes. I have checked for leaks throughout the system and there seem to be none. What would that be from? I know that the air will not hurt it but it makes the water seem cloudy. Please help me. Kenny <Alright Kenny, you need a good book to start with. Go to WetWebFotos.com and look at the book section.  Next, test your water for carbonate alkalinity and calcium content and add supplements as needed. I recommend Kalkwasser and a good buffer like Seachem Marine Buffer. Please go to WetWebMedia.com and read Anthony's article on maintaining both carbonate alkalinity and calcium. The liquid calcium is fine to start, but will cause problems over time and will break the bank supplementing a 220 gal.  Depending on whether this is newly imported fresh rock or if it is "cycled", some die-off is to be expected, but will be minimized and regrow under optimum conditions.  I strongly recommend testing for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, and performing water changes to keep these as low as possible during this time. The bubbles (and the algae) are likely from water parameters being a bit off. Shoot for 3.5 - 5 meq/L alk, 380 +/- calcium, 8.3 pH, 0 amm, 0 nitrite, <10 nitrate, 0 phosphate, 0 silicates to help avoid algae problems. This will be a normal part of establishing system, be patient and use water changes using RO/DI water if needed.  A good book will help. Have fun! Craig>

Bringing live rock back from the dead - 4/4/03 Hello tonight, <Sorry for the delay. Hello this afternoon, 2 days later. Paul here>     I stumbled across your website several months ago and just wanted to thank you all for your advice. <Well thank you for the kudos. We appreciate all of our readers and their watery inhabitants>  I have access to about 50 lbs of once "live" rock.  It has been out of saltwater for approximately a year now.  If I were to employ this rock into my existing system should it be treated as though it is totally dead base rock? <I think so. I have no definitive answer, but I in my experience, there would be minimal "life" that could survive out of its proper environment for that period of time.> I know that some forms of life on live rock can exist for some time out of water, but I assume that nothing would ever be expected to come back after such a long time out of water, correct? <Again, I think so.> Is there any harm in utilizing this rock and just cure it in its own separate container for several weeks (just like uncured rock) before putting it into my tank? <Nope. Actually, I would encourage such. I would get some "new" live rock to inoculate this now "base" rock and cure it all at the same time.> Is there any way to 'seed' this rock with that which is growing on the rock already in my tank? <Oh, well, if already have some live rock in another tank and you want to add this "base" rock to the tank, then I would cure it for a few weeks, then add it to the tank. It will reestablish colonies of bacteria after a while. Most people prefer to add base rock to towards the bottom of the tank and underneath the live rock for aesthetic reasons.>  Are there any supplements or additives that can help facilitate coralline algae without triggering an outbreak of unwanted algae? <The best way is to maintain calcium, alkalinity, and ph with a low light environment (if you can afford to). Check out our FAQs on coralline growth http://www.wetwebmedia.com/corallinealg.htm Also GARF has some interesting ways to get the most out of their coralline algae and spur on growth. Check them out at Garf.org and do a search for coralline recipe or something like that. Thanks for the question. A very good one at that! Paul> Thanks again <Thank you> Dave

Marine aquaria in India hello all, firstly let me tell you guys that your site is too good to be true cant say that about your book just as yet as its still on the way (8 weeks and waiting). Anyways I visited the Maldives about a year back and was convinced that I had to get myself a marine tank or at least convert the freshwater tank. So here I am months down the line with a marine tank (48"x18"x18") which the LFS setup for me. Now Lemme tell you something if it weren't for you guys I would have killed a few fish had a hole in my pocket and gotten rid of the marine tank faster than you could say "NITROGEN CYCLE". After the addition of my first damsel I was encouraged to add more fish after waiting for a week or so ,so after reading up on it and checking the same I asked the LFS whether it would be wise to wait for the tank to go through the nitrogen cycle, and my question was answered with a "DUH.....nitro what". by the time I reached the FAQ's on quarantine I had waited for the cycle to complete and added a yellow tang and a domino damsel no quarantine) and got rid of the yellow tailed damsel used to cycle the tank (too aggressive). Now my point being is it possible for me to get live rock or some marine fish if I plan to vacation in the Fiji islands or elsewhere ,do these places have a facility to get the fish back (I don't think the Maldivians were to keen on it) as in the packing et al. thanks in advance for the help.. Sachin. <Yes, possible. There are a few businesses in Fiji that sell (wholesale) to distributors around the world. I encourage you to connect with Tim McLeod of WSI (Walt Smith International)(wsi@is.com.fj), and ask him for assistance. Bob Fenner>

Rock and Naso's >Hello fella's, Hey!  There are a couple of gals here, too.  ;)  Marina is the lady of choice today.   >Got a couple of questions for you today.  Quick ones too so I don't take too much of your time.  First, how much rock can an aquarium within reason hold without compromising the structure of the tank?  I have a 72gal bow front that at the moment has around 130lbs of live rock.  How much will cause the tank to be in danger or cause leaks?  >>Boy, good question.  The tank can *easily* hold 2-3lbs. of rock/substrate/gallon without problems.  Truthfully, to the best of my knowledge there's little that we can put in our tanks that's heavier than water, so there's little reason to think that what you have will cause problems.  As long as the tank suffers no torsion stresses, you should be golden. >Second, I know that Blonde Naso's and Naso's are the same fish but why are blonds sold specifically as either male or female?  What is the difference in sexes that would make a male more expensive than a female in the blond variety?  Color or some other specific feature?  >>Blonde Naso tangs, to the best of my knowledge, are at most a color variant, but I believe that they are one and the same fish.  I'll call it a marketing ploy.  The long streamers off the tails are the desirable feature.  See here (almost to the bottom of the page) for a brief description (also, please do search our site) >>-->   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/tangscks.htm >>Now, I'm going to make an assumption here, I believe you're asking because you'd like to put one of these big fellas in your 72 gallon tank.  I would like to suggest to you that you go with a Zebrasoma species, instead, as Nasos and other large, free swimming tangs really do need far more space, and are known to hurt themselves and other fish if darting about rapidly.  I'll also tell you that these fish are a PAIN to ship, they rip bags open like nobody's business! >Thanks for your help guys.  I look forward to reading the second book on reefs, I love The Conscientious Marine Aquarist, however, I have found that a majority of the stuff in the book is right on WWM, but I love the book anyway and am still glad I bought it.  Thanks for the help guys.  John (Fin) >>Yes, just (finally!) having purchased the book myself, I'm quite glad I've got it.  I am also a big proponent of a full, well-rounded reference library, so please do continue buying as much literature as you can.  Good luck!  Marina

<Tiny Worms> I have some white tiny worm like creatures all over my live rock, they resemble white hair on the rock work and sometimes on the glass. Are they parasitic and how do I get rid of them. I heard a six line wrasse? Thanks <Well, there are tons of little animals that come in on live rock, many (in fact, most) of which are perfectly harmless. Hard to say exactly what these may be, but it sounds like they are some kind of Bryozoans or Ectoprocts, or even a "peanut worm", all of which are harmless. Just keep observing the aquarium closely, stay on top of maintenance, and be sure to let us know if these animals get out of hand. Arm yourself with a good book, like Sprung and Delbeek's "The Reef Aquarium", which has descriptions and drawings of lots of "diversity animals" that can appear from live rock. Hang in there! Regards, Scott F>

Coldwater livestock for Tropical Tanks... no way! Hi Is there any reason that I can't get live rock and live sand off the coast of Maine to start my reef aquarium? need some answers. Thanks for your help. Gerald F. Dewey <its only suitable if you are setting up a coldwater aquarium... else, you will kill most all of the desirable fauna on and in these substrates by prolonged exposure to tropical water temperatures. Not recommended from a practical or conscientious perspective. Best regards, Anthony>

Barnacles >Have enjoyed your web site and found it very informative and helpful. >>Excellent, glad to hear it.   >We have a 75 gal tank and have been increasing the amount of live rock, we're at 93 lbs.  The last piece we purchased has barnacles on it.  Should we keep it or dispose of it.  From what little I have been able to find on them they can be harmful to the fish population.  Help!  Ceil Wagaman  >>I do hope you've been following proper curing and q/t protocol, yes, even with live rock.  Yes, some barnacle species are actually parasites of fish during larval stages.  If it were my bit of rock, I'd set up a small, dedicated system with sufficient circulation, just to watch the critters.  However, if they're attached to a very large piece of rock and you can't separate them without harming them, then yes, you would be prudent to remove them.  Marina

Re: Barnacles >Hi Marina, >>Hello again Ceil. >Thanks for your quick reply.   >>More than welcome. >It is a fairly large piece of rock and has many barnacles on it.  To remove them I was thinking of just scraping them with a knife. Would that do the job or could you suggest a better way, or just remove the rock completely?   >>Boy, that's a tough one.  I like hammers!  Just kidding.  If a knife or some such works to remove them, then I see no reason not to go this route. >The salt water person at our local supplier thought it was a great piece, but after reading the short piece in Mr. Fenner's book became very concerned and looked for more expert advice. Also I am looking for some books on proper marine aquarium procedures and maintenance.  I have Robert Fenner's "Conscientious Marine Aquarist", It is a good light reference but I would like something more detailed. >>I am a huge fan of Julian Sprung, Martin Moe, Jr. (his marine aquarium handbook is essential in my book!), C.W. Emmens, John Tullock, Anthony Calfo (especially in regards to reef invertebrates) are all good authors to look for. >Would also like to purchase a more complete book on marine fish species (characteristics, habitate, what the good and bad points) are for future reference in adding stock to our tank, a book on inverts as well.  I would like to start to build a library of reference material. >>FANTASTIC!  Too many folks don't give due credit to the usefulness of having a good reference library on hand.  Unfortunately, in regards to more publications like "Conscientious Aquarist" and what Bob has done in identifying and classifying species by suitability, I know of no other book that quite does what he's done there.  Maybe you can pose a query on the talk forum of wetwebmedia--> http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk >>I'm positive that there will be plenty more suggestions on good books to have in your library there. >Thanks so much for your help.  I want to do things right and enjoy the hobby at the same time.  Ceil Wagaman >>You are so very welcome, Ceil.  You have warmed the cockles of my heart!  Our goal is to ensure that folks succeed (and spread a little love along the way, maybe).  Marina

Re: LR color changes? Greetings, and thank you for looking at my question. Great site!!! <Hello and thank you much for the compliments!> I tried searching this one out, but all I get is references to Cyanobacteria & Diatoms. I think that I have come to the conclusion that what I have is neither. And I'm still no further in finding out exactly what it is?! So I'll start out by listing my setup: 55g D.A.S. tank w/internal "box" filtration & return pump DAS internal protein skimmer 2) Aquaclear 401 Powerheads (providing cross current) 1) Tronic 175w Heater 2) Marineglo Actinic (36") 30w 1) Coralife 10,000k VHO (36") 30w 1) PowerGlo (18") 15w (dusk/dawn) 20lbs LR (pre-cured) 2 Mollies (to promote tank cycle) Cleaning crew - 2 snails & 5 blue-legged Hermits RO/DI water used for top offs & changes (15% per week after 5 weeks of cycle) PH - 8.2 Ammonia - 0 Both N's - 0 (+/- .05) The tank is in its 7th week of conception, I have several polyps & mushrooms (all doing fine) that came with some of the LR, all levels are fine - been like that since after the 4th week. My question is - in the last few days there has been a changing color pattern on my live rock, the rock was mostly white/beige, but now I'm getting nice patterns of purple and dark reds. They are not slimy at all to the touch, and seem fairly hard actually. I have observed established reef tank setups where all the LR is a deep purple/blue color. So my question is, IS this normal, or should I be looking out for something happening? The only change I have made lately is adding some new lighting, but this over a course of a few weeks. Other then that the tank looks good, tests fine, so am I just over-reacting at this point? Maybe I should just let the tank do its thing? <This is indeed normal and in fact very desirable. It's Coralline algae and once it has covered your rocks it will actually help inhibit the growth of the less desirable algae. To encourage growth you need good lighting and try to keep your calcium level around 450ppm. Your lighting is probably sufficient for a FOWLR tank but to keep your mushrooms and any future coral additions healthy you will need to add more. Congrats on the rapid growth of this, many people wait what seems like ages for this to happen!> Thanks in advance for your reply. Alex (aka Thunder) <You're welcome! Ronni>

LR arrangement Hello to everyone once again. < Hi Jeremy, you got Cody today.> I can't mention enough how much your website has helped in my researching/planning of my reef tank. Thanks a million. I believe I just have one quick question that I couldn't find a definitive answer to in the LR Placement Faq. I read that some people use PVC to raise the LR of  the substrate to allow better water circulation, some just place the LR on the substrate.  My question is.. if there is plenty of circulation are there any problems with placing my LR on the tank bottom and building my DSB (4-5") up around it after the LR cures? I believe I'm making this harder than it needs to be.. haha.  Thanks again for all the time you devote in assisting with the proliferation of a wonderful and fascinating hobby. <This placement will be fine and will also provide more stability in the structure. Cody> Best Regards, Jeremy

Brown Live Rock! Hi WWM, I have just spent the last few hours pouring over articles on your site and have gained some great information! , as well as relieving many of my anxieties about  starting up a marine aq. I have been looking for an answer to a question on live rock but to no avail (So many to search through!), and so wondered if you could answer a question: for me. I have finished setting up and cycling  my tank, and have purchased 10kg of live rock. There were parts on the rock which were not covered by purple coralline algae and have since been covered by brown algae( in one week!). The brown algae is now starting to cover the coralline algae (as well as the glass, but I can clean that!) Really its just a question to see if this is normal. When  things settle down  would a balance  be set up between competing colonies, or could it be that I have the lighting on for too long or could the live rock be dying?. Many Thanks Robin Clifton (Newbury UK) <Hi Robin, fast growing brown algae, new tank, sounds like diatoms to me, fairly common in new tanks.  Nothing to worry about, focus on water quality and nutrient export, siphon out what you can during water changes.  If you are running a skimmer, make sure it is producing.  Check out the FAQ on diatom algae for more info, Best Regards, Gage http://wetwebmedia.com/diatomfaqs.htm >

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