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FAQs about Live Rock Selection, kinds, amounts... 2

Related Articles: Live Rock, Answering Some LR FAQs by James Fatherree, Live Rock, Reef Systems, Refugiums

Related FAQs: LR Selection 1, Live Rock Re-Use

Related FAQs: LR Life Identification, Curing Liverock, Live Rock in General, Shipping/Moving, Placement, Lighting, Water Quality, Live Rock Studies in Fiji Collaboration & Charts, Sumps, RefugiumsFaux Rock, Base Rock

Habitat and more! Synodus binotatus Schultz 1953, the Twospot Lizardfish.

Using nature/Limestone and Mangrove Mud 5/10/13
Dear Wet Web Media,
<Hello Alyssa>
 I live off the West Coast of Florida. I am setting up a new 265 gallon system. A beach nearby has tons of limestone rock everywhere. If I cured this, would it be safe to add to my tank? I have a 40 gallon refugium and another spare 40 gallon tank that I plan on making a Mangrove refugium with a deep sand bed. Is it ridiculous to consider using "real" mangrove mud? I can't seem to rule out these options in my readings and thought I should go to the source.
<Well the limestone/dolomite is certainly safe to use but you run the risk of bringing unwanted microorganisms into your system.  Would be best to let the rock bleach in the sun for a week or so to ensure no living organisms are on or within the rock itself and then go through the curing process. 
As far as the mud, I would just buy some Miracle Mud or similar product.>
<You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)>

LR Question, Cu removal     8/2/12
I was surfing through craigslist and found 250+ lbs of LR for $60....so of course i was like that's got to be either a typo or someone is very desperate for space but anyway I clicked into the post and it said the LR is saturated in copper so i posted up on one of my forums asking if there is any way to possibly remove all copper from the rock and a few people came forward and said you could recure the rock at a low PH while running co2. Is this true?
<Can be done... I'd use an inorganic acid... like HCl... w/ good air movement if done in the house>
 Is there any way to properly get rid of all copper from all LR???
<Not "all", but mostly all can be melted off thus; the rock used profitably as "base">
   ...if so i think this will more than likely be a very good
investment although time consuming.   Looking forward to your response,
Thank you very much in advance.
<Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/baserockfaqs.htm
and here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/curemovalfaq2.htm
Bob Fenner>
Re: LR Question    8/2/12

also forgot to mention that I had asked him how long the copper was ran and how saturated it is and this was his response " Rock has been saturated for over 1 year with a 3.0 level. Using Copper safe "
<Mmm, will make a wider-encompassing statement. Regardless of the format, all copper can be resolubilized by acidic reduction of the carbonate (faces of the rock) that it is adhered to. BobF>
Re: LR Question    8/2/12

thank you very much for your help I'm still on the fence about it...any other tips will be appreciated
<Keep reading. B>

Re: Substrate   6/27/12
Ok, lemme get this straight...over the last 6-7 years I should have been removing rock & sandbed for newer & more beneficial?
<Yes; posted over and over on WWM: renews (increases) soluble portions of use (alkalinity, alkaline earth materials, and much more), re-inoculates the system w/ a wide mix of organisms (first law of ecology), helps lower precipitated materials (organic and not)...>
 (Yikes) I also have a 100 or so pd.s of rubble rock(broken up coral bases)
Which I thought helped with the calcium levels, as it broke down?
<Mmm, not so much as time goes by...>
 Take that out to? So adding the ozonizer is just another means of benefitting water quality?
<... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/redox.htm
and the linked files above>
 Which  I've been researching, but I've got 2 protein skimmers in the sump. Also gonna add a refugium to sump.
<Ah good>
Now my dilemma, what to do with the sand & rock? Can I dry it out? Cycle it again?
<Some can be re-used (as base... after drying, cleaning...)>
 I can't pass it on too anyone else? Would I be bad take'n it back  to the ocean?
<VERY bad. Do NOT release anything into the wild, please>
I  would like to recycle what I can, but be responsible too. What do you do with your left over rock  & sand?
<Garden/ing. Bob Fenner>
Re: Substrate   6/27/12

Got it, I don't get on your website; obviously as often as I should!
<Seems I'm on it all the ding-dang time!>
 I WILL make that a priority. To much convoluted info. Elsewhere. Thanks for all your input. Looks like I've got a lot of gardening on the horizon
for me. Renee Jones
<Ah good. BobF>
Re: Substrate   6/28/12

Hahaha,....I'm sorry. I can just imagine how much nonsense you put up with daily?
<Just (largely) human nature... a lack of discipline; simple following of directions. "Comes w/ the territory">
 But that's why you get the " big bucks" for?   LOL My problems are on a very small scale, I'm sure. Last question, what brand of ozonizer do you use/ recommend?
<Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/redoxsyssel.htm  .... B>
Re: Substrate   6/28/12

Thanks again : )
<As many times welcome. B>

Question about dead live rock     4/29/12
Hello all
Thanks in advance! I am still very much a novice at this. Got my tank running and I have not had to do much to it.
<Best to take ones time>
I have been running a 30 gallon Biocube, FOWLR tank for about 3 years. It's been doing great with tons of coralline and fish that are growing bigger by the month. I have been feeling sorry for these fish and wanted to upgrade to a 65g red sea max.
<A very nice unit in my estimation>
My original plan was to just move everything to the 65g tank since my bioload was going to be the same and add new live rock slowly. I have been reading that I probably shouldn't bother moving my old sand as there are probably a lot of nasties that will get kicked up during the transfer... Is this correct?
<Not necessarily, no>
1. If I buy new live sand from my LFS, how much do I need and do I need to cycle it first?
<Up to you... see WWM re... and not likely, no>
2. I planned to purchase more live rock, I currently have 30# and was planning on adding another 60#. My friend just offered my his old, dead, sitting in his garage for 10yrs rock. I'm thrilled since it will save me a chunk of change. The rock comes with a catch. He shut down this tank 10yrs ago due to massive die off from Ick. My concern is whether the Ick cysts can survive 10yrs? If it can, can I "cure" it of Ick? How do I do this (if it's possible).
<Not to worry... no ich/life... just rinse off w/ freshwater>
3. When adding dead/dry rock to seed it to become live again, is it better to add it one at a time or can I put it in all at once?
<I'd place all at once, under your newer (really) live rock>
I am in no rush, and I just want to do it the right way
Thanks again
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Live Sand versus Live Rock. Sources of nitrifying bacteria of use      4/29/12
Hi Crew, I am having problems with an ammonia spike with a new system, although new", the water and sand were taken from the pristine waters of the Andaman Sea so should contain bacteria, the sand below the low tide area so it does not dry out. I was thinking maybe live rock contains more bacteria as it contains possible micro ammonia areas where the crabs etc
live inside it for the bacteria to flourish where as the sand is in regular sea water. Any thoughts? Regards, Adam.
<I don't know... perhaps a literature search:
Bob Fenner> 
Re: Mistake on your website.... nitrifying bacteria sand/LR

Actually for your readers Bob, as you know already I am stupid. 
I have been to the beach in the monsoon season in the Andaman and it was certainly emotional swimming to the rocks with huge waves, not advisable for the faint hearted. I located a heavily populated area of butterfly fish, clown tangs (looking great in their natural fast moving water environment, but I think they should remain there as in captive conditions they do very poorly) and my theory which I hope will help your readers who live by a beach is that it is misunderstood that live sand contains large colonies of bacteria as there is no ammonia in their environment where as the rocks close to the fish covered with algae etc have some ammonia exposure in the form of waste from the fish, my theory at this stage.
<Likely so; but as stated, I don't know how much useful nitrifying bacteria there might be...>
 I placed the rocks in the quarantine tank and I am glad to say my Emperor, Blueface and Majestic Angels are picking at the rocks (I have more than one tank, these fish will often fight so should not be placed together, I have been lucky on that front) I do hope the ammonia subsides at the moment it is 1.0 per million.
<Yikes... I'd be NOT feeding any proteinaceous foods>
I could go to the beach and collect more water but within a few hours would have the same problem and the stress of changing the water on the fish I think would do more damage. I will update you. Strangely a paid of true Percula clowns seems to be taking the ammonia worse than the angels.
Regards, AA.
<And you. B>

Concerns - new setup with used rock/equipment    3/24/12
Looking for some thoughts on my situation...
I acquired a 135G tank (with 15G sump), with 130# LR and about 50# LS.
After cleaning all equipment meticulously, and also a thorough cleaning of the LS (with water and removal of any cloudiness/detritus etc),
<Cleaning used sand is a hassle but necessary if you want to re-use it. Good job!>
 I restarted the tank with the "old" water.
<Unnecessary and possibly a bad idea depending on the waters quality.>
 The LR was left to dry for a few days during the process, by the seller, before being restored to a "wet" state.
<Uh-oh!!! Every living organism within the rock died when it was allowed to dry. That is a very large amount of dead organics; rock needs to be rinsed and cured.>

 I also discarded all other old filtration.
After completing the build and seeding with 40# of cured live rock, with plenty of life and some macro-algae, I tested nitrates with several kits and got a wide range of answers but decided a massive water change was due.
<Water changes are not going to accomplish much with the amount of dead organics trapped inside the rock. You are going to have to wait for the tank to fully cycle at this point. Read more on biological cycling--
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/estbiofiltmar.htm >
I removed 80G, replaced 40G, and tested nitrates at 120-160ppm (or possibly higher). I moved 30G to my QT tank and did a 90% water change, and still tested at ~120ppm nitrates (6 hours after the water change). I will retest again 72 hours after the change (could the LR have released nitrates into new water stir-up from the change?), but am concerned with the biological quality of what I acquired at this point and wonder if I should just start from the beginning.
<You acquired 130# of uncured rock. You are starting from the beginning.>
The prior owner did run the tank for ~10 years, and there seemed to be some lagging care at the end of his ownership.
Do I do a 100% water change only?
<I would wait out the cycle before changing any water.>
 Or do I do this and also bleach the rock (is it possible that the old rock is "leaching" massive nitrates into the tank?)
<The old rock is uncured and is producing ammonia. The rock may be loaded with phosphates due to the previous owners lack of care. Bleaching may help remove some of the phosphate.>
I am doing a FOWLR setup, with very hardy specimens (who will be dipped/QT'd per WWM guidance), so I am not necessarily targeting 0ppm nitrates.
<Good call on the dips and QT but I would recommend waiting until nitrates are at least near 0. No reason to start with less than pristine water before adding a bio-load.>
 I will also use Caulerpa in the sump.
<Caulerpa has many pros and cons. Read more on Caulerpa sp. here-
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_4/caulerpa.html  >
 Also, the skimmer (which hasn't yet been used due to replacing the pumps)
seems rather large - two 700gph Danner Mag drives - so I will employ strong nitrate reduction through the tank life. Hmm, thoughts?
<Can't over-skim a FOWLR.>
Sorry for writing a novel. Grateful for your patience.
<An easy read. Proper spelling and punctuation are much appreciated.>
Re: Concerns - new setup with used rock/equipment 3/26/12

Thank you! Extremely helpful.
<Good to hear.>
I'm afraid I have too many variables in my tank now to figure out what's really going on...
<You will learn that this is the case nine times out of ten.>
Rock: I have about 50 lbs of fully cured live rock in the tank (in for 4 weeks) . 35# (with heavy coralline and macro-algae) has been in for 4 weeks, the rest (light coralline) for about 1 week. Then I have (as you pointed out) the uncured rock (~130#), which has been in the tank since I started it about 6 weeks ago. The cured live rock seems to be doing OK, although there was some macro-algae die-off and some lightening of the coralline algae.
<The 50# of fully cured rock is going to help out in the long run but it is currently negated until the 130# is cured.>
Water: Right now, I have about 60% old tank water (possibly bad), 40% new water. I haven't been skimming since (per my prior email) my system needs ~40 more gallons of water to enable my sump operation.
<I'd go ahead and get the sump and filtration systems up and running.
Increasing water movement should speed things up, but 130# is still going to take a while to work itself out.>
Readings: I have been taking regular NH3-NO2-NO3 readings for only about a week. Nitrates are consistently high, over 120PPM, ammonia seems to hover around 0.25PPM, nitrites stays at 0.
<Nitrites will rise as ammonia falls. Nitrates may have come in with the old water. Did you test the old water before adding it?>
Is it possible my tank has cycled? Should I test whether it has without testing with livestock? If so, what would you recommend?
<Not possible. Ammonia and nitrite will both be zero when the cycle is over. Any readable ammonia is quite toxic and .25PPM is very high. Do not add any livestock until they are both at zero.>
Or is it possible that the "bad" old tank water (high nitrates) is stalling the flourishing of the Amm-Nitrite bacteria? I see consistent ammonia levels in the tank, but 0 nitrites. Not sure why this would be.
<What were the initial ammonia readings? The amount of dead organics in the 130# is going to take a fair amount of time to cycle but I can't give a specific time frame. Nitrites will show up at some point.>
Otherwise, I probably was wrong to describe the rest of the rock as "live".
<Live rock refer to the beneficial bacteria within the rock more so than visible plants and animals .  More on live rock-  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm >
It it has the appearance of uncured base rock in that I don't see any matter or remnants (algae etc) at all...at this point there are what look like little white worms or tiny little colorless hairs standing up here and there...nothing significant, though.
<Growth will come in time.>
Do you think I should do a heavy water change simply to get the nitrates down?
<If you like, but nitrates are going to shoot back up as the cycle continues. I'd start my water change schedule once the cycle is over.
Establish a water change routine and stick to it.>
 Would that help the cycling (if it hasn't occurred yet), or are high nitrates (old tank water) inconsequential for new tank cycling?
<The old tank water will not have an adverse affect on the cycle but your nitrates may be higher than average once the cycle is over. I would wait out the cycle before doing any water changes. In the meantime, I would install the sump and all equipment as if the tank was ready for livestock.
Make sure all equipment works properly and study your intended livestock while you wait out the cycle. Ammonia and nitrites will come and go; it is just going to take some time. Slow and steady wins the race in marine aquariums.>
Thank you - Dave
Re: Concerns - new setup with used rock/equipment 3/26/12

Fantastic...extremely helpful again...
<Glad I could help.>
Sounds like heavy water changes at this point won't be helpful (or hurtful), so rather than continuing my 90% main tank water replacement, I will refill the tank so the filtration/sump can start working.
<Good. Equipment problems are easier to deal with when livestock is not in the equation.>
Should I break down my QT tank and add its rock/water back to the main tank? Would use of the same water/biological source be more beneficial to the specimens? Or is it harmless to let my QT tank continue its own cycle?
<Take the rock out of the QT tank and place it in your display. Rock should not be used in quarantine tanks, unless of course it is the rock which is under quarantine. Read more on quarantine systems here-
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/quaranti.htm >
I did notice some sponges on the cured rock. I tried to ID them per WWM, but can't. Should I be worried that they are nuisance or releasing organics into the tank?
<Highly unlikely that they are a nuisance in any way. I would leave them be.>
I do see continued die-off of the macro-algae on the live rock. Should I remove all of that so it doesn't cause problems with the cycle?
<If it is easily accessible I would remove it.>
I forgot to mention that a brittle star hitchhiked on the first piece of cured LR that was added to the tank 4 weeks ago. I saw it emerge the night the rock was put into the tank, but haven't seen it since (and assume he didn't survive). Should I search for and remove its carcass?
<You will never find it. A single dead star is a moot point in the grand scheme.>
Since the uncured rock has been in the tank for 6 weeks now, should I leave as is? Or would it help speed things along by removing and rinsing with a garden hose to remove some organics?
<At six weeks in you are committed to this cycle; leave it alone.>
You asked whether the old tank water was tested - unfortunately, no.
The moving company that I hired "forgot" to do so (at least they were honest about it). I estimated the nitrates to be over 300ppm based on the heavy changes/replacements I've done to date.
I appreciate that your comments have reset my expectations on this process. I have been thoroughly confused that, in week 6, I have such early-cycle readings when so many sites say that 4-8 weeks are average complete cycle time frames.
<Four to eight week averages are based on using base rock and starting the cycle with a couple of dead shrimp or a small amount of uncured rock. The amount of dead organics in 130# of mature rock is quite substantial, hence my initial shock upon discovering the previous owner allowed it to dry and then "restored it to a wet state." It is going to take longer than average to cycle this tank and it's simply a waiting game at this point. Take this time to learn as much as possible about your intended livestock.
Re: Concerns - new setup with used rock/equipment    3/28/12

Many thanks for the help, Jordan!
<You're quite welcome. Feel free to ask if you have anymore questions,
Re: Concerns - new setup with used rock/equipment 3/27/12   3/30/12

Jordan (or other Crew),
<Jordan here>
Per my previous emails...
Here again I'm wondering if it is possible my tank cycled during the weeks before I started taking readings (again - tank has been running for ~6 weeks with base rock,
<Base rock is free of organics, you had 130# of uncured rock.>
 ~ 5 weeks with fully cured/thriving addition of live rock piece, I started taking readings ~2 weeks ago).
I have seen consistently high nitrates (water changes have "dropped" it to 80ppm),
<Starting with "dirty water" is the nitrate problem. Water changes will fix this.>
no nitrites, and Ammonia that seemed to drop from .13 to now 0.
<Ammonia dropped from .25 to 0 in four days with no nitrite readings?>
Also, I saw the brittle star alive and well in the middle of the night a few nights ago (another sign of cycling success?
<Not necessarily, many animals will survive the cycle.>
Perhaps the base rock wasn't in as lousy condition as I was afraid? Who knows.
<Ten year old rock that was allowed to dry and placed into a tank without a thorough cleaning was in a horrid state.>
Anyway, I'd like to err on the side of uber caution and test to see if the cycle is complete (if possible).
<If ammonia and nitrite are both zero it is possible. Keep testing and if they stay at zero you are good to slowly add livestock.>
 Would adding a piece of dead shrimp be advised?
The hope is that I could watch the cycle in action - ammonia, nitrites, nitrates - with some expectation that it will move steadily along (if in fact the biological cycle has completed).
<If you want to see the cycle in action from beginning to end- remove and thoroughly rinse all rock and sand, remove water and start over using a couple of dead shrimp. I do not recommend this.>
Or should I just trust the readings confirming a cycle completion (especially given live rock and star life), and just get the nitrates way, way down (via. a massive change)
<This is a solid plan.>
then begin stocking (with QT, using a piece of base rock from the system)?
<Do not use rock in your QT tank. PVC pipe or ceramic pots can provide cover. Read more on QT-
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bestquarfaqs.htm >
Let me know your thoughts.
<Slow and steady>
Re: Concerns - new setup with used rock/equipment 3/31/12

Thanks! Answered every question/concern I have and set me straight on path for this.
Although I do have one lingering fear: whether the uncured rock will have any more surprises up its sleeve...now or at any point in the future...hm...
<Possibly some algae issues but nothing that can't be dealt with. One positive aspect of the previous owner killing the rock- no nasty hitch-hikers.>
I suppose it's possible that ammonia was truly immeasurable and not present. I'm using the API test kit - whereas the nitrite has very clear difference between 0ppm and a measurable reading (light blue to a shade of purple), the ammonia reading has a more subtle shading difference and I've wondered if I was half way between 0 and the first gradient shown. Hm, user error?
<Happens to the best of us.>
Probably possible!
I'll keep on keepin' on! And gear up for an 80G water change.
<Sounds like you've got things under control. Remember to add livestock slowly and the least aggressive first.>
Thanks Jordan, have a great weekend
<Back at ya, Jordan>
Subject: Re: Concerns - new setup with used rock/equipment 3/31/12
There is a black sponge that was holding on to a piece of dying macro-algae. The piece fell off the cured rock, and both dying/dead macro-algae piece and sponge are on the sand bed.
<I would remove anything of size that is dead or dying and easily accessible.>
Should I assume the sponge is/was also dying/releasing organics and throw it out?
<I would remove it. Jordan>
Re: Concerns - new setup with used rock/equipment 3/30/12     4/4/12

Jordan, questions/concerns continue about my non-stocked system...and whether drastic measures may be in order before proceeding...
<That doesn't sound promising...>
I have tested for phosphates, and see that they are at .5ppm. My concern is that the uncured rock should have been thoroughly bleached before being reused in my system, as it was in place for at least 10 years in the prior system.
<If the tank was in that bad of shape it should have been rinsed and bleached. Rock from a properly maintained tank would have been good to go.>
Per another email to "Crew", which Bob responded to, some of the cured base rock that was added to the uncured came from a tank which dealt with a 2 year unresolved hair algae outbreak.
<For future reference, don't buy rock with visible micro-algae or other pest.>
 I scrubbed it all off with a toothbrush then "threw it in" (whoops).
<Lesson learned.>
 Now I see slight regrowth, and also a rust-colored algae starting to spread on the uncured rock.
<It's going to continue to grow back until its food source is exhausted/eradicated. I expected this from the uncured rock, but was not aware the cured rock was in such bad shape.>
I had intended to do an 80-90G water change to stabilize the tank, as it appears to have cycled by now. While this would get my very high nitrates/phosphates way down (but not to zero), I am now wondering if I should start over and bleach/dry the base rock and sand. Bob had referenced this in the WWM link he provided (regarding our hair algae email exchange).
<This should eradicate the phosphate in the base rock. Removing the sand is going to be a tricky/messy endeavor. If you go this route, I would throw it out and buy all new sand. Expect a diatom bloom with new sand.>
My concern is that the old system rock will continue to cause such nitrate/phosphate problems, in combination with the algae spores I have likely already introduced, that I may as well start over.
<Possible solution but I'd bleach the base rock first and go from there. If algae persist in the unbleached rock, I would bleach it one piece at a time to avoid another full cycle- going to take some time and effort. Continue regular maintenance throughout the process.>
Other less exhaustive measures may be "cooking" the rock (have a little familiarity based on web articles), or a 100% water change.
<100% water change is just going to waste water if the rock is in as bad of shape as you say it is.>
I will get automated measures for controlling phosphates down the road,
<Start reading up on phosphate and how to control it. Knowing your enemy makes it easier to defeat. More on phosphate- 
More on phosphate control- http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/2004-11/rhf/index.php >
 but my idea of fun in the hobby will not entail weekly hour-long hair algae scrubs off live rock!
<Nor mine. Bleaching should get your levels controllable. Once controllable adding a clean up crew and a phosphate binder should help with your algae woes.>
 My wife would shut the
hobby down in our house before I would in this scenario. So I want to be as preventive as possible now.
<You got started off on the wrong foot but your doing a solid job of addressing the problem. Options are to bleach the rock as addressed earlier and slowly fight the algae. Option two would be to replace the sand, rinse/bleach rock and start from scratch. Option two is the safer bet but it is going to delay adding livestock The decision is yours to make.>
Thanks! Dave
<Keep me posted, Jordan>
Re: Concerns - new setup with used rock/equipment     4/5/12

Jordan, thanks. Lots of lessons learned here, including that denial is not the name of a river. I suspected major issues at the beginning, but ignored my instinct (to the point of not considering flags as relevant to mention) and hoped they would "go away".
<Unfortunately, this is never the case.>
That said, I'm glad to get confirmation on a difficult move that starts me all over.
Appreciate your frank advice. A few last questions:
I've wondered if, instead of bleaching, I should do a Muriatic acid wash.
<I've used Muriatic acid in the past to remove Coraline algae and I did not like messing with it. That being said, I am not a great resource concerning its use.>

Some sites have suggestions about this as a last resort for bad, old rock (especially phosphate/metal issues). While this is typically suggested as the second step in a bleach/acid process, I don't see how the bleach is truly necessary (i.e., won't the acid wash destroy all organics/life?
<Bleach will remove soluble phosphates from the rock.>
Is the bleaching really necessary if an acid wash is planned?). Far more drastic than bleach alone, but I may as well be bold since I'm starting over anyway. Any thoughts?
<A new query on Muriatic acid may yield better results on its proper use.>
So I should give up and start over on the sand? In other words - no other cleanse/"reincarnation" process is worth taking the risk that the substrate can be reused?
<The amount of time and effort spent to properly clean the sand is not worth the amount of money saved. Bagged sand is not too expensive in the grand scheme and it is clean. CaribSea's Fiji Pink is my sand of choice but there are plenty of options. Expect a diatom bloom with new sand. The bloom will go away in a few weeks once the silica is exhausted.>
Bleaching, heavy cleaning/agitation with freshwater, etc. Some advice states that a Muriatic acid wash is not an option (i.e., would dissolve the substrate).
<I believe it would.>
Sorry, you've already suggested discarding it...I just thought I'd confirm that a final
attempt to purify it for new use (no matter how bold) wouldn't be advisable.
<New bagged sand is clean and will totally remove one possible negative from the equation.>
Muriatic Acid Wash for Live Rock?  /RMF    4/5/12

I have realized there is a need for me to take drastic measures and restart an early-stage tank based on the poor condition of the rock. I have acquired about 140# from two different sources - one, a 10+ year old tank (causing sky high phosphates/nitrates no matter how big my water changes); the other, from a hair algae infested tank. This combination caused a seemingly long cycle, which completed, although now I see the fruits (or lack thereof) of this combination already
(aye carumba what was I thinking). I see trouble ahead, and the need to be bold.
I have read suggestions on the internet regarding a "rock reincarnation" process consisting of bleaching then acid washing
(i.e., muriatic).
<Mmm, I would NOT use this... Muriatic, 3 molar Hydrochloric Acid... even diluted... too dangerous/reactive... the simple bleach washing procedure detailed on WWM will do. Bob Fenner>
 I believe I need to pursue this. However, I'm curious to know whether bleaching is really necessary if muriatic acid
washing will be done. Is it really likely that any organics/life will survive the acid wash? My interest is to reduce the risk (and
environmental impact of bleach waste, if possible) in this process.
However, if it takes both steps, then there I will go.
Muriatic Acid Wash for Live Rock? /Bobby     4/5/12
<Evening Ron, Bobby here>
I have realized there is a need for me to take drastic measures and restart an early-stage tank based on the poor condition of the rock. I have acquired about 140# from two different sources - one, a 10+ year old tank (causing sky high phosphates/nitrates no matter how big my water changes); the other, from a hair algae infested tank. This combination caused a seemingly long cycle, which completed, although now I see the fruits (or lack thereof) of this combination already
(aye carumba what was I thinking). I see trouble ahead, and the need to be bold.
<I enjoy bold actions!>
I have read suggestions on the internet regarding a "rock reincarnation" process consisting of bleaching then acid washing
(i.e., muriatic). I believe I need to pursue this. However, I'm curious to know whether bleaching is really necessary
<The bleach is not necessary, a good scrubbing and rinse with fresh saltwater prior to acid is all that is needed>
 if muriatic acid washing will be done. Is it really likely that any organics/life will survive the acid wash?
<No, nothing will survive>
 My interest is to reduce the risk (and environmental impact of bleach waste, if possible) in this process.
However, if it takes both steps, then there I will go.
<Let me start by clarifying what you are trying to achieve.  Forgive me if you already understand this.  The issue you are likely facing is phosphate bound up in the rock.  The phosphate is bound up in the very outer edge of the rock and the acid wash in essence will dissolve this layer in the hopes of removing the phosphate.  Nitrates are not the issue here, at least not in the way phosphate binds.  There may be a build up of detritus in the rocks that is breaking down into nitrates, but that is an easy issue to deal with.  Now, on to my response.  Although in theory this can work, and in practice, it has, you are truly killing this rock.  There will be nothing living left.  If you are willing to do this, just but some 'dead' live rock from a vendor for a couple of bucks a pound.  Allow me to offer you a more 'biologically friendly' option.  Research the idea of 'cooking rock'.  In essence, you take the rock and place it in a large container (think Rubbermaid) with a lid, water movement, and a heater.  Do a 100% water change monthly, and over time (3 months+), the rock will be VERY clean, healthy, and still very biologically active.  In this scenario, bacteria feeds on the nutrients to the core of the rock.  Now, if time is a factor, this is not an option, but is a great solution.  Another option is to scrub the rock very well, rinse it in freshly made saltwater, and place it back in the tank.  Use GFO liberally to absorb the phosphate as it leaches from the rock and keep the lights on a reduced photo period.  The amount of GFO it will take and time will be dependent on how much phosphate is bound up in the rock.   This along with aggressive water changes will also ultimately overcome the problem>
<You are welcome>
Re: Muriatic Acid Wash for Live Rock?    4/5/12

Crew, I greatly appreciate all the help and feedback in my misadventures with bad rock...wow, 80's flashback...
<You kidding? I loved the 80's!>

I understand that acid washing is not a good course of action. I am also leaning towards cooking before I throw in the towel and bleach.
As suggested I researched cooking, and see many suggested paths. I will follow the WWM recommended path (i.e. Bobby's email). There are recommendations for more frequent water changes, but it seems this is wasting saltwater while the process must take its inevitable course (drawing from some comments Jordan made). I will begin the process and take phosphate readings, and continue the cooking until they are immeasurable.
<Although it is true that the process simply takes time, the water changes also decrease the nitrate that is being released into the water as a result of the bacteria doing its job.  It simply helps hasten the effort>
Is there any thresholds I should apply to ensure algae eradication?
Time, temperature, or tests that provide assurance that hair algae return is improbable?
<When/If you cook the rock, after the first month when you do a major (90%) water change, you will be amazed at the gunk that is at the bottom of the tub.  You will then begin to visually understand where the bad readings are coming from.  Once the rock is in a tub and in complete darkness, the algae will no longer grow.  At this point, all nutrient readings that you take will be true in the sense that you are not getting false low readings as a result of the growing algae taking up nutrients in the water.  Please note that the average hobbyist test kit does not measure Phosphate very well. 
Please research a low range, accurate phosphate test kit or perhaps one of the small, digital, colorimeters from Hanna.
Should I purchase a hard plastic scrub brush from the hardware store, and give each piece extremely vigorous scrubs before starting and between water changes? Would this encourage removal of detritus/algae and especially the phosphate particulate?
<It will help tremendously initially and likely at the first water change, beyond that you will find that physically visible 'stuff' is gone> Or would this also remove the good bacteria which negates its benefit?
<Nope, not enough to affect the effort>
My overall concern is whether cooking will impart significant benefit to the phosphate issue.
<Given time, and a heavy dose of GFO, you can and will beat the bound up phosphate>
<A hybrid of the description of my first email would be to cook it for two months with three water changes evenly mixed in, on the 4th change, begin to use some GFO to take up any phosphate that continues to leach out>
 I would hate to lose the fully cycled bacterial colony I've fostered, and it seems acid washing or bleaching are actually far longer paths to a flourishing tank than cooking.
<Agreed> I'm in no rush if the bold
measures give me better insulation against long-term tank distress.
<A wise observation>
<You are welcome! Bobby>

Question - Live rock inherited w/ Hair Algae   3/20/12
Hi Crew,
Currently I am cycling a 135 lb tank, with about 130 lbs of base rock and one 40 lb piece of cured live rock. In my ongoing tank build, I inherited about 25 lbs of live rock with major hair algae growth.
<Mmm, is it/this already in the tank?>
An aquarium maintenance guy who's given me significant help suggested I scrub off the hair algae with a toothbrush and put it in my tank.
<I'd go beyond this if the rock is more than a year or two old/used... and just bleach-wash it, air-dry, treat as more "base">
 I did so, but am concerned that this may be a risky move. The rock does have coralline algae, but patches of very heavy green and after heavy scrubbing of each piece, I fear the possibility that I missed tiny nooks/crannies of hair algae.
<Algae transference only takes a few spores... nutrient exported/imported w/ is a bigger issue>
I also received the tank (QT build) from the system. It was run for years
 in a nano coral tank (with corals healthy until the very ending tank breakdown) with no problems before the outbreak (and continued healthy signs during the outbreak), there were never medications used, etc.  While cleaning the tank, I did notice a heavily corroded metal clamp in the back of the nano overflow (crumbled when I touched it).
Not sure if rust would contribute to hair algae nutrition?
<Mmm, not much really>
I do use carbon block filtered tap water in Denver (high quality municipal source), can monitor phosphates/nitrates to ensure they are low, and restrict lighting. That said, do you think I am taking a gamble that isn't worth taking?
<Again, nominal, make that minimal... Given a lack of nutrition, competitors, predators... this hair algae will likely go>
Thanks! Dave
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Re: Question - Live rock inherited w/ Hair Algae   3/20/12

<Big D>
Thank you!
Oh the joys of shooting now...aiming later...
<Ah yes>
It is already in the tank. Great. Do you suggest that I take it out and bleach, etc...or is it too late?
<A bit late... but for ref.: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm

LR vs.. dry rock? - 3/10/12
Hi all!
<Hi Pam, Jordan here.>
I'm at a site that offers "dry rock" for about $2.00/lb. AND free shipping!!!<Do an online search for reviews of the company. Sometimes if it sounds to good to be true...>
I'm tempted to fill my 75 gal, 2 week old reef tank with this product.
I do have 80lbs of LS and one 8lb chunk of LR I paid $64.00 for!!<Ouch!>
Like everyone, I'm trying to save a buck.
How long would it take for this dry rock to become "living" as it
<This will vary from system to system, but four to six weeks is a safe estimate; possibly longer in your new system. Be aware that dry rock can have large amounts of dead organics within and may need to be cured outside of your display.>
Or, do you think it is not a good practice?<If you do not mind waiting for the rock to cure, dry rock is great. It is economical and does not come with any unwanted hitch-hikers. I have used dry rock to some extent in all of my tanks.>
<You're welcome.>

pond rock... Making into LR... for SW use?     1/31/12
Hi, I took a few pounds of rock from my local pond. Im wondering if I could cure the rock and turn it into live rock. If so should I add live rock, a light, or a powerhead.
<... I would only use a rock of largely calcium carbonate composition to start, make into such for marine use. Is this what you have in mind? Search on WWM using the string "making live rock". Bob Fenner>
re: pond rock    1/31/12

Ok I wanted to no if regular rock can be turned into live rock. Now that I know I can't. Where can I find the calcium carbonate composition.
<... read here: Actually, no. Just use the search tool found on every page of WWM to find this yourself. Can be done. B>
Re: pond rock, to SW Live      2/2/12

thanks for the help, greatly appreciated.
<Welcome! B>

Live Rock (or rather, a lack of'¦) -- 04/27/11
I am setting up a large marine full reef tank 4 meters x 1 meter x 1 meter.
I live in New Zealand where the importation of live rock is prohibited. We are allowed to import rock that has been dried and cleaned in other words dead.
Am I able to cycle this up in order to get the benefits of live rock
<<Nothing beats freshly collected/cured 'live rock' for its accumulated bio-diversity, but the 'dead' rock can be colonized and utilized in its stead>>
and if so what is the best method?
<<Place the rock in a system that is seeded/will be seeded with some water/sand/mud/rubble from a 'collection' of mature systems (the more the better)'¦and wait'¦6 months or longer, to allow sustainable colonies of beneficial organisms to establish (bacteria, micro- and macro-crustaceans, worms, etc.)>>
Can you please refer me to any further reading I can do regarding refugiums as I am undecided on whether to use one in my set up?
<<Certainly'¦a very useful adjunct to most any system. Start here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm), and also follow the many associated links at the top of the page. Cheers'¦ EricR >>

Quick Swimming Space/Rock question... Adding LR to an established system  4/13/11
Hi crew,
I have a 55 gallon tank with 1 yellow tang, 1 ocellaris clownfish and 1 Six line wrasse.
The tank also has one of those overflow boxes inside the upper left hand corner of the tank (reducing the tank floor space).
For filtration I currently have live rock and a large protein skimmer underneath the tank. I've had the tank and fish for about 4 years.
I have about 50 lbs of live rock in the tank and I was thinking about adding some new live rock pieces to the tank but I wanted to know how much rock can I safely add to the tank without removing too much swimming space for the fish I have?
<Good question. Really depends on the "quality" of the rock in question...
OR the question re the rock's quality! I would only add a few pounds at a time (every couple of weeks) IF you can't be assured that it's really "about" cured. Bob Fenner>

Reusing sand and rock from dead system  12/13/10
Good evening and Happy Holidays to all,
<Good morning Rob and thank you!>
I have used the search option many times and have always found the information I have been looking for, until this time that is.
<Ok, no problem>
I'm sure it has been asked before though.
<Questions like it, yes>
I have a saltwater tank that has died. Basically the light fixture died and at the time I had no way of fixing or replacing it so all of my corals and fish were given to someone who could care for them properly. At
the time I had no intention of getting the system up and running again due to cost and my work/school schedule. In the time the water has about half evaporated raising the specific gravity to around 1.5.
My question is that now that I plan to establish the aquarium again, is it possible to reuse the rock and sand from the old system?
Since the specific gravity rose so high I did not know if the rock and sand would absorb the excess salt and leech it back into the new water.
<No, it will not do this to any appreciable amount. You will have plenty of time during the initial phases to get the parameters where they should be>
I understand that all life that was in the sand and rock will most likely be long dead
<Most yes, but you will be surprised what can, and often does, survive in extreme conditions>
and the system will need to be seeded with new sand and rock.
<Yes, this will be needed>
Also the system will need to be cycled as if it was a brand new system before it can be stocked.
<Yes, although you will have some beneficial populations of bacteria there, and this might take less time than you think>
Am I able to rinse the rock and sand with either salt or fresh water to be able to utilize it again?
<Yes, perhaps getting the tank as it is to the correct temp & salinity and going through a 'curing' process as if you are curing live rock. Search on WWM re, and test regularly for nitrate/ phosphate. Utilise water changes, skim, run carbon, perhaps some iron based media if required. When all seems good, add your 'new' live rock & sand>
Currently there is approximately one inch of sand in the system and I want to
add at least three more inches to make a deep sand bed.
<You could 'recure' the system, temporarily remove most of the sand after, lay the new on the bottom with the old back on top all in one go here. Then seed with new live sand after>
Thank you and your entire crew for all you have done to further the hobby.
<No problem>
Without your excellent site I would have made many mistakes over the years.
<Heee! I've made many mistakes myself even WITH such direction! Such is life'¦ Simon>

Live rock, use... in FOWLR  11/9/10
Hi there again! Quick question... If I have a FOWLR system do I actually need to have live rock even if my sump has bio balls? One store is saying absolutely yes and another is saying absolutely no if I have bio balls... I think he wants to sell me his corals. I know pH is a factor here, and the fish hide and graze upon it, but is it absolutely necessary in my situation?
<Live rock is certainly desirable; unlike an aerobic biological filter the anaerobic pores inside live rock contain bacteria that reduce nitrate to nitrogen gas, so live rock makes water quality management easier. But no, it isn't essential, and people have been maintaining fish-only tanks using just aerobic biological filters for decades, often using tufa rock and/or coral sand as a source of alkalinity. That people don't use this approach isn't so much anymore isn't because biological filters don't work, but that they work *better* combined with live rock, relegating the biological filter to a secondary role that makes its maintenance dramatically easier, e.g., media can be cleaned or replaced without worrying that'll kill the filtration process.>
Just FYI, in the end I wound up buying and curing my own live rock (7 months ago) and the 2nd guy laughed at me when I told him last week, telling me I wasted my money... Can you shed some truth to this whole thing?
<Depends what you're after. The bacteria species that perform aerobic and anaerobic filtration will colonise your live rock whether it's cured by the retailer or cured at home. But live rock that has been cured properly by professionals who know what they're doing in terms of lighting, water quality, salinity, etc. is more likely to remain colonised with small sea creatures; the copepods, isopods, Brittlestars, starfish, etc. we all know and love. If you're sticking the live rock in a tank with a triggerfish, that won't matter much because most such animals will end up as food. But if you're using live rock as the heart of a reef tank, or want it to supply food for gobies, Butterflyfish or whatever, then it's worth paying a premium for fauna-rich live rock you know has been cured using the best possible methods.>
As always, much appreciated ;)
<Do read:
Cheers, Neale.>

Chance to buy used live rock   10/29/10
Hello crew, I have a chance to buy some live rock from a guy on Craig's list for a good price. Its in an established reef tank that he wants to clean out. I was wondering if this looked ok to you or if it seems to be in bad shape. It comes as is with corals, snails, fish, and sand included. Basically everything in the tank for the price of the live rock. It has some growth and plants on it that I am not familiar with. Thank you for any answers you give me. I would do the research to ID it myself but I kind of need a quick answer here.
<The live rock in the photos looks fine, but the macrophyte algae may or may not be desirable depending on your particular situation. The "corals" look like Euphyllia spp. and leather corals of some sort, difficult to say, but apparently healthy. Snails are turbo snails. The two fish I can see are a Maroon Clown and one of the Centropyge species.
For the right price, a nice little collection. Now, I'm not a marine expert, but saw you were in a rush. As Bob would say, the quickest way to get answers on WWM is to use the Search tool; queries take 24 hours to get through, so mailing crew members isn't the thing to do if you want replies within minutes. Cheers, Neale.>
Re: chance to buy used live rock
I found some good info on the stuff yesterday, but I always appreciate another perspective. This site is so big that a lot of times I have written just to get pointed in the right direction. Thanks for the information and the work you guys do.
<Glad to help! Cheers, Neale.>

   Some live rock in a tank 

Choosing skimmers; creating Live Rock (was - Re: overstocked?)   9/12/10
Hi, once again. I value your expertise and opinions greatly, so two last questions.
<Fire away.>
I added the BioWheel 400. I was thinking of getting the salinity up to 1.018.
<I assume at 25 C/77 F?>
Then adding a skimmer. What skimmer is the best one for the money. I looked at the CPR Bak Pak, and Tunze. I believe Tunze is German made and a really good skimmer,
<Indeed, this brand is well regarded. Deltec is another good brand.>
From my reading. I really do not know and do not want to play around with buying garbage and having to return them. Can you recommend either of these brands. or another one?
<I'd encourage you to read here:
Broadly, the taller the skimmer and the stronger the air pump, the better the skimmer will work. In fish-only or FOWLR systems, any tall, powerful skimmer should do the trick nicely. If you're keeping Scats for example,
the sheer amount of food they eat means any decent skimmer should collect lots of muck without much effort. In reef tanks efficiency becomes more of an issue because it isn't merely keeping the water clear you're interested
in, but holding down nitrates and phosphates as close to near-zero values as possible.>
Also is there a way to turn my coral skeletons into live rock, i.e. a solution to buy that will put the organisms into the water column and that will attach to the coral?
Thank you so very much for your help.br /> &<Live rock in the filtration sense is live rock because it is highly porous, so you have lots of spaces in the rock with little to no water flow. That allows dysaerobic and anaerobic bacteria to grow, and these in turn remove nitrate and produce nitrogen gas. A lump of coral won't be nearly so porous. So while yes, "good" bacteria will colonise the thing very quickly, it won't ever mimic the efficiency of good-quality live rock.
If you want live rock, you'll need to buy some. Cheers, Neale.>span>&n 

Real Ocean Rock -- What to Do?  9/7/2010
Good morning, Good afternoon or good evening (where ever you are in the world I guess?)
<<Greetings -- is morning here on the East Coast of the US>>
Anyway I am living in Thailand and got some real ocean rock offered by one of the local stores here which was taken out of the ocean just hours before.
<<Wow, fresh -- excellent!>>
I picked 11 stones but now what do I have to do to make them ready to place in my tank. Currently have nothing in the tank (not even water so I have the time and the tank available? Do I need to cure?, cook? or just place in tank and start cycle?
<<There are several approaches as you have noted, but 'my' preference is to place the fresh new rock in the display straight away and put light on it. I feel this offers the best chance for 'keeping' most of the life in/on the rock. This isn't without hassle though, as you have to deal with the resultant nutrient spikes (and associated alga blooms) and possible introduction of some 'little nasties' (predatory worms, crabs, shrimp, et al).
Store will keep the rocks for another 4 days in one of his storing tanks with fresh ocean water lots of Chaetomorpha and aerated but nothing else (no lights or placed in darkness). Please advise and thanks.
<<Were it me, I would add the rock to the new system, crank up the skimmer and turn on the lights, and see/deal with what develops. If you're not comfortable with that, then by all means cure the rock before use. Here's a link with more info on the matter (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm). Cheers'¦ EricR>>

Buying Live Rock: Question - with no picture. 6/7/2010
Hi again,
<Hi Mike.>
I have a question about buying live rock.
I was offered some live rock (or base rock possibly) at a relatively good price...
<Well, it is either one or the other, Live rock has critters living on\in it. Base rock is usually white and doesn't have anything growing on it.
The only problem is that the rock is green (picture attached)!
<No picture was attached.>
Should I be concerned? Will the rocks stay green if I put them in my tank and cure them?
<Would be easier to tell with a picture. but have a read here:
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm My guess is that it is probably algae, and yes, it will stay green if conditions suit it *nutrients in the water, etc.>
Thanks In Advanced,
<My pleasure.>

Buying Live Rock: Question . 6/7/2010
Sorry about that :-/
<hee... no problem.>
Image attached for real this time.
<I see it, and if the rock is dry, it is dead rock now.>
If I would scrub and rinse these out, then put it in my tank with my other live rock to cycle for a few weeks, without adding fish, do you think that they would start looking like the other live rock after some time?
<Give it a scrubbing with water and a brush then let it cure. It should be fine in time.>
Thanks again,

Live rock question... use, re-use  5/28/10
Hello crew,
I have ~ 35 lbs of LR that I took out of my tank some time ago because of space in my current 75g. I am, in the near future, upgrading to a 90, and wanted to add this rock back in with the new set up. I had the rock just
stored in a plastic bin for around 4 months, so I'm assuming this "Live Rock" is now dead (out of context this could be a confusing statement).
Since I plan to use it I placed the rock in a Tupperware container in the garage, and put a simple hang on filter, with no media for water circulation. I removed a piece of LR rubble out of my sump and put it in this container to help 'seed' the other rock. After 2 weeks of this, I tested Ammonia, and its 0. Now when I pulled out the rock, I just put it in a container no cleaning. Before putting it back in to cure, so to speak, I scrubbed off the rock with a tooth brush and rinsed it off. Should I be expecting a cycle with this rock?
<Mmm, if so, not a very great or sudden one likely>
I assumed that all the dead matter in the rock would start decaying once back in warm salt water. If I don't see a cycle, any advice when this rock would be safe to re-introduce to the system?
<Wait a week or so... before adding livestock. Do plan on repopulating the now base-rock with some new/fresh LR. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock, and LS coll., use in Crete    2/8/10
My name is Maria and I live in the beautiful island of Crete in Greece.
My home is in the village Drapanos of Chania(attachment 1).
<I see>
I have been an aquarium freshwater hobbyist for about 14 year, but my real love was always for a reef aquarium.
I have decided that its time for me to start my first saltwater tank by changing my 120L tank(Juwel Rekord 800 Black) in to one.
The first thing that I would like to ask you is about the equipment that I have chosen.
This is what I chose for my tank(note that these are all from eBay):
<A heater, thermostat>
<Internal water pump>
<Int. small power filter/sponge type>
<Small int. skimmer>
Are they OK? Do I need anything else?
<Mmm, yes... the filtration here is going to be insufficient>
The other thing is about Live Rock.
I would like to get some from my local sea area. It is 10min. from my house and I can choose either Souda bay(attachment 2)or the other side looking at Rethimno sea(attachment 3) both clean sea areas.
Is that a good idea?
<I do think this will work, yes>
If yes, is it easy to collect the rock(example: rock areas around the bay) or do I have to dive to get it?
<The shallow area should be fine>
How about Live sand? Can I use the bay sand?
<If it too is clean, yes... IF you have concerns about bringing in unwanted life with these materials, you might want to sterilize them ahead of use... You can read re this and the filtration issues by perusing the articles and FAQs files archived on this Subweb:
I read on your site that I can use the ocean water, so that question has been answered for me.
<Ah, good>
Thank you for your patients and I hope to get my answer soon.
Regards, Maria
<Thank you for writing, sharing Maria. Bob Fenner>

Dead Rock (seeding) -- 11/25/09
I have about 250#s of once live rock. I know it can be seeded with new live rock. How much would it take for that amount?
<<Can be done with a little as a few pounds'¦though the more you use the faster, and likely better, the result>>
And would I be better off putting it all in 10 separate tanks, or all in one?
<<I would place 'all in one' and add a variety of seed rock from differing locals (or just different stores) if possible, for the most diversity of biota>>
I was planning on buying 45#s of live. Is that going to be enough?
<<Should be plenty'¦ And the longer you can let all this 'sit''¦the better>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>>

Live Rock Addition 11/9/09
Hi Bob and Crew,
<Hello Thai>
I have written on a couple of occasions and your advice has been invaluable. I now need some more advice in terms of adding live rock. I have a 375 gal fish tank with about 220 pounds of live rock. I am about to purchase another 220 pounds of live rock from an established tank and was wondering if there are any ill effects from adding the rock straight to my tank.
<Shouldn't be if it's coming from a clean system. Obviously you do not want to add rock with Cyano or aiptasia if present.>
Tanks been up and running since February 2009, and is stocked with 9 small Yellow Tail Fusiliers, 3 Green Chromis, small Niger Trigger, miniature Picasso Trigger and large Yellow Tang. Nitrates are at about 20, Nitrite and Ammonia is at 0. I also have lots of brown and magenta stuff growing on the sand and assume it is due to excess nutrients.
<Could be Cyano. Google our site re.>
Hoping the addition of live rock will help reduce it and the nitrates.
<Will help.>
I use tap water for top up and water changes with Red Sea Salt mix. Feed Nori every second day and New Life Spectrum Pellets twice a day. How much live rock would I need before I can take out the bio balls, as I plan on adding another skimmer in the first chamber.
<You have enough live rock now to allow removal of the bio balls. I'd remove 25% of them weekly.>
I have a Marine Source Skimmer quoted as 375 gal/per hour and think its severely undersized.
<I agree here.>
It skims a lot of brown murky stuff and requires cleaning every second day.
<Skimmers should be cleaned often, makes them more efficient. The air injector/venturi should be checked for any calcium build up that will restrict air flow to the skimmer. Even though this assembly isn't exposed directly to salt water, the moisture in the cabinet will have an effect here. My present skimmer has been in operation for 11 months and my air flow through the venturi completely ceased due to this problem. Easily cleaned out with a properly sized drill bit.>
Also can you recommend a skimmer that would help out and would fit under my cabinet. The cabinet is 70cms high.
<Not too many skimmers out there that will handle your tank size and fit your height requirements. The ASM G-4 Plus will handle 400 gallons and is 24" in height. The Octopus Extreme MSX line has a couple of models that would also fit. Check them out.>
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>
Kind Regards,
Thai Pham

Re Live Rock Addition 11/10/09
Thanks for your reply James.
<You're welcome, Thai.>
Am also thinking of adding a couple more powerheads. Thinking the Tunze (12000Litres/Per Hour) though it seems a bit pricy. Do you know any alternative brands that genuinely push that much power but will lower
initial purchase cost.
<The Hydor Koralia line works on the "stream" principle and the Koralia 4 will generate 1200gph using only 8.5 watts of power, but cannot be used with wavemakers. This pump generally etails for a little
less than 50 bucks. I've used them before and have had no problems with the product.>
With the skimmer, I might just buy another Marine Source because their pretty cheap here in Australia.
<You may want to consider using Chemipure or a good grade of activated carbon in your system, will go a long way in improving water quality.
Another option is to use ozone. May want to read here.
James (Salty Dog)>

Live Rock (How much vs. base rock?) -- 10/24/09
I am in the process of setting up a 75g FOWLR tank with no sump. I plan to run a Rena Filstar XP2 canister filter on it and a H.O.B. skimmer.
<<Can be done>>
To save money, I'd like to use some base rock.
Could you advise me as to how much live rock I'll need,
<<Very difficult to do as this depends greatly on the type/quality of rock as well as terminal stocking levels and even your filtration/husbandry/maintenance practices. My advice is to buy enough rock to provide adequate hiding/sleeping areas for the intended livestock while not filling the tank up so much as to not allow swimming and growing room for same. Perhaps start with 50-60 lbs of good quality rock and work from there>>
and what proportion of it could be base rock?
<<I guess that depends on how long you are willing to let this tank sit and mature? I'm thinking from your statements that this 'base rock' is actually 'dry rock' (though there is such a thing as 'live' base rock). Going on that assumption, the higher the proportion of dry rock to live rock, the longer the tank should sit and mature to give the seeded biota (from the live rock) time to spread and establish sustainable colonies. The more 'show quality' live rock versus dead base rock (or even 'live' base rock) you can add to the tank the more biota and bio-diversity available and indeed the better the overall outcome, in my opinion. But 'any' proportion is possible'¦go with whatever you can afford and then proceed accordingly>>
<<Happy to share'¦ EricR>> 

Dead live rock help.../Reseeding Dead Live Rock 10/12/09
Hi guys,
<Hello Matt>
I've been to look at a 6x2x2 tank that contains roughly 80kgs of live rock, the problem is the tank has been emptied and the rock has been left to dry out for roughly a year. I've been advised that the rock can be reseeded by adding more uncured live rock, I just need to know how much rock will be suitable for this process to take place as quickly as possible.
<You will need to lightly scrub the dead rock under fresh water to removed detritus, etc. Adding about 20kgs of new live rock should be ample. I would not add any fish or mobile invertebrates for a couple of months or the animals will likely pick it clean before the dead rock can develop.>
There is a sump protein skimmer etc with the tank. There is a full set up. The tank was running perfect until a box fish died and wiped the whole tank, the couple selling the tank lost heart when this happened and couldn't afford to re stock it, so subsequently they ended up draining the tank and leaving the rock inside. The tank belongs to my aunty and she said I could have everything for £250 which providing I can get the rock back is really cheap, I just need to know whether it is possible because I can't afford to re stock the whole tank with live rock and that will determine whether I can buy it or not. As soon as I know how much live rock I need to re add, I will start filtering enough water with a RO filter. I'm a beginner at this and want to start from scratch so I can learn my trade before adding coral and fish etc and just want to take my time.
<Yes, learn before acting. Do start by reading here and linked files above.
Thanks in advance
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Reef tank starting over
Creating "Version 2.0" of a Reef System (Starting Over) 9/10/09

<Hey there! Scott F. on the road, but in today...>
I have had a 50 gallon bow reef tank for around 10-12 years.
The tank after all these years has some problems such as red slime, green hair algae and worst of all are the dozens and dozens of Aiptasia anemones that I fight constantly.
<Sounds like some of the typical problems that arise during the lifespan of a reef system. Of course, these things can get out of hand for one reason or another!>
Now -- I am remodeling the room and I am getting a new 65 gallon tank.
<Good to hear!>
Basically want to know how can I 'clean' the live rock. The live rock has a bunch of green hair algae but that is also where I see many brittle stars and critters.
<Do you really want to "clean" it, or simply remove the undesired life forms? If it is the former, then you may want to simply let it sit in a container of conditioned saltwater with minimal light and aggressive protein skimming. Make consistent small water changes during this process, which can take weeks. If you really just want to save the rock but are willing to sacrifice the life forms living on it (a pity, really), you could simply remove them from water and let them sit outside for a few weeks, then rinse and clean them carefully with freshwater before re-using them. The potential danger to this technique is that you may still have a lot of dead material in the rock that can leach for some time. and, you will essentially have "dead" rock that you will have to "re-cure" and colonize with desirable life forms over time. Curing in a separate system is always advised. See the sources on this site for techniques.>
(I have heard of taking a blow torch to the live rock to burn off Aiptasia lol )
<Removing Aiptasia can be problematic and difficult! I have heard of such extreme techniques as the blowtorch, but they are a bit radical for my taste! f you're not into barbecuing the Aiptasia, it may be best to manually remove them with a sharp cutting blade (be careful, of course). There are, of course, chemical means of eradicating them (see online sources for a variety of successful "remedies"), some of which may carry the risk of "collateral damage" to desired life forms. Perhaps you can simply chisel away at the rock around the Aiptasia, place the resulting Aiptasia-infested rubble in a refugium and put the little anemones to work as a natural nutrient export vehicle! An "Aiptasia scrubber" of sorts. They arise and multiply in nutrient rich environments, so they would be perfect to utilize in this manner!>
Also, the sand has A LOT of critters within it, do I just start with new sand and put a few cups of old sand in? Thanks, mark
<That's what I would probably do. I would seed your system with some freshly cured live rock as well, for greater diversity, and for the opportunity to re-colonize your existing rocks (which will now be "clean").
Let me know if you have any tips on 'starting over' but trying to keep the 'good' stuff and keep out the bad stuff.
<Well, Mark, I'd look at some of the things outlined above. I'm a big proponent off trying to salvage the existing stuff whenever possible, and to tweak your new system to encourage greater nutrient export capabilities in its new configuration. The old expression, "The best defense is a good offense" is highly applicable, in the case of nutrient management! Your continued consistent good husbandry and keen observation will always pay off in a healthy system! Best of luck on the "reboot"! Regards, Scott F.>

Dead rock or live rock?
Base Rock -- 08/26/09

Hello, I am currently in the process of setting up a new saltwater tank. I was given about 150lbs of rock that has been sitting in a trash can in a garage for about a year. I was told that the water has not been circulated
for about 10 months. The rock is pretty much pure white with maybe a couple of pink spots here and there. Do you think this would still be okay to use?
<If you do, make sure you mix it with live rock, and realize that it will need to be "cured". It is likely all dead and so the live rock will seed it with some beneficial organisms.>
Or would I be better off buying all new live rock?
<If money is no object I suggest live rock, otherwise a mix would be appropriate, just allow for curing and a cycle to take place.>
I appreciate any advice you can give me :)
Thanks so much!
<You're welcome
Josh Solomon.>

hair algae question, LR sel. f'  -- 08/23/09
I am just getting into the hobby and purchased some live rock from a fellow reefers established aquarium. After getting it home I noticed that a few pieces looked like they had hair algae on them. Should I avoid putting them in my tank as I would be setting myself up for problems later. Or is the hair algae going to occur in any aquarium that the water parameters are not kept at the correct levels?
<Much more the latter... IF conditions don't permit the growth of noisome/nuisance algae (poor circulation, excess available nutrient, dearth of competitors and/or predators, light quality...) then the "hair" algae won't persist>
Are the other pieces of live rock that do not have the hair algae on them still seeded with it since it was in the same aquarium?
<Yes! Only takes a microscopic spore to start...>
Thank you for your time and advice.
<And you for your intelligent speculations. Bob Fenner> 

Re: hair algae question 8/23/2009
Thank you. I guess my real question should have been -- in your opinion, should I put the rock in my tank or not?
<Yes, I would. B>

Adding live rock to existing reef tank 7/1/09
I currently have a 65 gallon mixed reef tank with about 75lbs of live rock.
My mushrooms were growing and spreading like crazy, so I brought about 8lbs of rock to my LFS and traded even up for some bare live rock.
After the transaction was made, they mentioned a lot of their rock they sell comes in from customers who break down their tank, etc.
This got me concerned being that I have no idea what these former owners used in their tanks, especially the possibility of copper.
Now Im afraid to put this in my tank in fear of ruining all my other live rock and possibly killing my livestock.
<I would not worry.>
The rock is now in a 5 gallon bucket with the LFS's water. How can I know for sure this rock is reef safe before putting it in my display tank?
<Test the water the rock in sitting in, I doubt you will see any measurable level though.>
I did a Salifert Cu test about 24hrs after bringing it home and it was 0.
Others are telling me I have to test for different forms of copper. I'm confused.
<There are different test kits depending on the copper used.>
If the live rock did have copper in it, would it immediately leach into the water where I could then test?
<It could, but not to an appreciable level with this amount of rock.
Either it has leached out into the water it is already sitting in or it is releasing so slowly you cannot
even measure it. This all assumes the rock was even exposed to copper.>
Since its such a small amount of rock (8
lbs) should I be worried to add it?
<Nope, landscape away!>
Mike Petro
<Welcome, Scott V.>

Shutting down a saltwater tank... LR de-selection  06/09/09
I have to shut down my 55 gallon tank for long term storage and hopefully a restart in the future when my housing/time permits. The LFS is willing to take all the livestock, but there's still a ton of small life on the rocks (micro brittle stars etc.). Is there a humane way to put these guys down?
I'd like to pass them on, but there's no way I can pick 50-100+ of the little guys out of the rock, and I can't find anyone to take the live rock.
<Do you have a local club? Can you put an ad on Craig's list? I'm surprised there's no one around willing/wanting to take cured, populated live rock! If you're anywhere near Fresno, I know we'd take it for sure.>
I know they don't have central nervous systems and can't really "feel pain", but I don't want to prolong their suffering. Any thoughts? These little guys are actually some of my favorite things to watch in the tank
with their crazy spawning parties and such.
<Hmm... well, there are a lot of ways to euthanize fish. I'm not sure about inverts, but I would think the same methods would probably work. Since you can't freeze them, I'd try the Alka Seltzer method (Alka Seltzer floods the tank with CO2). But I'd definitely first try a little longer to find a taker. It would be a shame to have to just pitch this rock...
Sara M.>

Re: Shutting down a saltwater tank 06/11/09
Hi Sara,
I ended up finding a guy to take the rock. Actually after posting an add on craigslist I had about 20 offers in the first 24 hours.
<Great! I figured that would work...>
I'm sorry I even thought about putting the little guys down. The guy who picked it up only lived about 10 blocks away and was working on raising some fry from a breeding pair of maroon clowns he has. I found a home for everything living in the end. I think even Salty Dog one of the people who answers questions on the site offered to take it.
<Good to hear!>
Thank you for your advice and great website.
<De nada and cheers,
Sara M.>

Re: Shutting down a saltwater tank 06/09/09
Thank you for the quick response.
I have a bit of a hair algae problem (I don't have the time needed to properly take care of my tank anymore) which is why no one is interested in taking the rock.
<People can be silly sometimes. Hair algae is not a contagious disease.
It's in everyone's tank to some degree or another. It's certainly no reason to turn down free, cured/populated live rock.>
I'll post a Craigslist add and try to keep the rock alive for a while to see if I can find any takers.
<I do hope you find someone. If not... I wouldn't worry about causing these inverts too much pain. They're likely not even capable of "suffering" the way we know it.
Sara M.>

Live rock and skimmer selection.  05/27/09
To whom it may concern:
<Today it is Josh.>
I am currently switching my 265 gal tank over to a natural filter system.  I need another 230 lbs of live rock as I already have 300 or so in there.
<Wow, where are all the fish going to go?>
My first question is what size of skimmer should I be looking at and could anyone possibly recommend a manufacturer?
<Hmm, before you can decide on a size you need to decide on a manufacturer. Some of more high quality brands have tank size ratings you can really trust, while some others exaggerate a little bit. If you are one of those that heavily stock their tanks, I suggest you go slightly larger than you think you need.  For recommendations on skimmer brands please read
http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bestskmrSelfaqs.htm , although in my opinion you cannot go wrong with a Euro Reef.>
Right now I'm running a CPR filter with 2 6" skimmers built in but they don't seem to work well.
<You will likely benefit from an "upgrade".>
My second question is will that amount of rock suffice?
<There are many different kinds of live rock, if this rock is fairly porous and you put two pounds per gallon into the tank, you will hardly have any room for fish to swim or corals to grow. Depending on the quality of the rock, I would generally recommend anywhere from one pound per gallon to two pounds per gallon. The two pounds per gallon generally only works with really dense and heavy rock. If you start to fill up your whole tank with live rock then you might be better off moving some live rock to a sump or other remote tank, so you can still have room for animals in your display.  The short answer to the question is, it likely is more than enough.>
Thanks in advance for your help
<Your welcome.
Josh Solomon>

Dead Live Rock - It's dead, cannot cycle a tank with it. 4/10/2009
Hello guys,
<Hi Craig>
Last year my tank with 30kg of live rock in it crashed .When I removed it from tank I accidentally placed it in fresh water so I now know the rock is dead.
For the past 3 months the rock has been stored in salt water with good circulation. I am now ready to start my tank again my LFS says I can use all the rock and cycle tank with it and the critters and stuff that come
with live rock will start when I add corals and stuff.
<I disagree. the rock is likely clear of dead things, and may have some bacteria on it, but it is still not "live".>
I am now confused cause other stores say to cycle tank with about a 3rd of cured live rock. Which is correct please help don't want to spend money that I don't have too thanks .
<I would get some new, cured, live rock, just a few pieces to seed the system again, and the rock will soon be live again.>

Florida Liverock and the unsuspecting Novice... HHs  3/16/2009
Crew -
I've had an ongoing battle with my tank since day one, and I'm willing to admit that most of those problems were a result of my own stupidity and ignorance. Tank is 125g, 50g sump, and I've recently plumbed in a 30g refugium. I didn't jump right into things, but took my time, researched, planned, read. I got my tank in October 2007 and didn't put water in it until May 2008. I was (am) patient and wanted to do things right.
<Good traits>
After much debate, I bought 90lbs of live rock from the LFS along with 200lbs aragonite sand. After a few weeks of letting things settle/ cycle, I decided I needed hitchhikers - you know, the random goodies you only get from aquacultured liverock beds. (and patience loses the battle with curiosity).
<A valid observation>
I bought an additional 100lbs of live rock from a Florida dealer. When I got my rock, it was loaded with all kinds of critters. I even got extras from the dealer - sponges, anemones, crabs. When the smoke cleared, my tank looked like it was running for years.
Now, 8 months later none of the 'cool' critters are there. 3 of the 5 - yes 5 - free anemones are alive. (2 Condys and 1 rock anemone).
Of the 4 sponges I got for free, only one is still in the tank, and its slowly wasting away. One of the 3 gorgonians I got as freebies is still with me. The decorator crabs are gone, the sea cucumbers are no longer to be seen, and my peppermint shrimp are in a better place - but the 'snap' 'crackle' 'pop' of either mantis shrimp (of which I've caught 2) or pistol shrimp is incessant. My snail population dwindled to almost none, when I realized that only 1 kind of snail was surviving in the tank. A quick Google search let me know it was a whelk not a snail - and I've since pulled over 20 of them from the tank. I have xanthid crabs everywhere and they are no doubt opportunistic omnivores (read: tries to eat any snail or hermit crab that gets in front of them).
<And so it goes...>
I also just saw a 4 inch serpent starfish struggle for its life against the bottom of a large piece of rock against an unknown assailant. That night, I scoped the tank with a red light and saw a huge Eunicid worm (more than 6" exposed and over 1/4" wide) coming out of the hole where the serpent star was getting pulled into. I'm still trying to figure out a plan to catch him (insert your advice/
suggestion here).
<A trap... please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/polychaecompfaqs.htm>
I don't want to take away from what those dealers are trying to do with the aquaculture, relocation of reefs, live rock directly from the ocean without damaging an existing reef, etc (there has to be some good, right?)
<Mmm, not necessarily... an issue that could/should be more fully debated... We don't "live" in a zero-sum universe... Ever notice that folks proclaiming the plight of our planet don't seem to mention not reproducing as a means of improvement?>
- but, I feel that there are perils no one is telling us "newbies" about. Or, perhaps, you're telling us, but in all of the literature to read, we didn't see it.
Now, only a year into the hobby (which is turning into my passion) I feel that if I bought the live rock from one of these dealers today, I'd have a much better understanding of what i was getting, what I needed to do to be ready for it, how to check for hitchhikers (the wrong ones and the right ones) and how to keep everything alive.
<Yes... Please see a recent "pitch" (ppt presentation) I've made, archived here:
What do you think?>
Instead, I've lost a lot of livestock that I had no right to own in the first place, and I've put my new additions under stress they didn't (don't) deserve because I didn't realize what was in my tank.
I'm now in a position where I can't buy any more crustaceans for the tank for fear they will be lost, and don't have the desire to break down the tank and try to isolate every one of the 'bad' reef dwellers I've got.
<Mmm, you are right to be concerned>
I'll stick with it, and by reading more, learning more, and understanding more, I'll get through this, but if anyone has an extra 2 minutes, have them read this. It'll save them hours and hours of trouble in the long run.
I appreciate all of the work you and your staff do, and if it weren't for you guys, my situation would be worse.
Thank you,
<Thank you for the thoughtful input. Bob Fenner>

Coralline algae dry and dormant? Commercial "LR" claims 1/13/09 Hi there, A quick question for you,  <Hello Kim.> I have a hobbyist that claims a retailer is trying to sell him DRY LIVE ROCK that is "DORMANT." This struck me as rather odd, and possible marketing nonsense. <It is. Live, but dry? Bunk!> His description of this material: "basically dormant liverock waiting to add water, no need for cycling, and it will grow coralline algae..." MY QUESTION: Can coralline algae survive a dormant dry period, and storage as such, to later resume normal growth in living form? <Hmm, no. There are greater issues here too. What about the other biodiversity from true live rock, it will not be here either. And to not need to cycle the tank, this is a big load shoveled out here. Dry rock can be a cost effective way to add more rock to a tank, but it is in no way shape or form the equivalent to real live rock.> Thanks and have a great day! Kim B. Parrish <Welcome, have a good one too! Scott V.>

Quarantine, SW, LR to avoid Crypt et al.  11/13/08 Greetings, I hope this message finds you well. <Yes, thank you> I read the excellent article about quarantine written by Anthony Calfo. Unfortunately, I read it after I had already stocked my tank and come up with crypt resulting in a now fallow 120 gallon reef with the five remaining fish fully cured, but quarantined until my display tank has been empty for at least 42 days. I have learned my lesson! <Good> However, with regards to live rock, I just want to be sure that I fully understand what precautions need to be taken before introducing live rock from a very reputable fish store. Currently I have about 20 pounds of live rock purchased from two separate local fish stores. They are currently quarantined in a 20 gallon long aquarium that is in the process of cycling so that I will be able to eventually use it as a frag tank. How long should I leave this rock in quarantine before placing it into a small "fish only" tank? <A good question... as most all stores have little actual success in keeping "wet gear" isolated from their live rock tanks (if even on separate recirculating systems), it may well be prudent to isolate such new material for a few to several weeks... in the hope of rendering pathogens less virulent> Thanks for the excellent information posted here. Best regards, Jeffrey Castaldo <And you. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock, sel.  10/23/08 Hi am very new to marine aquarium and I have just purchase live rock for a friend but when I got there the live rock were in a cardboard box not in water they were also cold from sitting out side. Would this have killed the live rock? <As long as the rock was still wet it should be fine. There will be some die-off but chances are that enough life has survived to repopulate the rock.> <Chris>

Live Rock 10/17/08 I am just about to convert my 6x2x2ft tropical setup to a marine setup. I have got all the equipment, protein skimmer, flow pumps. lights etc. <Ok> I have located 50kg of live rock @ ?3 /kg from a guy that is stripping down his tank. <Nice> Locally live rock is ?11/kg <Ouch> The rock has been in his tank for 4 years. <Hmmm, may need some new rock to supplement the old, just a kg or 2 should do.> For me to get the rock delivered to me from where he stays will take 4 to 5 days. <Ok> My question is will the rock be ok by the time it gets to me, or will it all be dead. <Will he be able to ship it so that it at least stays damp? You will have some die off over this time, but enough of the life should survive to reestablish the rock given some time.> Should I buy this rock, or wait and save up to buy rock 4 times more expensive? <It can work, will just take a little time to reestablish itself.> If I do buy the rock what should I do with it when I get it, put it straight in my tank with live sand, or cure it in another container first? <If there is nothing else in the tank besides the sand then you can cure it there, just be liberal with water changes.> Any help would be very much appreciated. Kenny Logie Orkney, Scotland <After 4 years the biodiversity of the rock has probably fallen quite a bit, supplement it with a little new rock to allow more critters to establish themselves. Otherwise you should be fine with the used rock.> <Chris>

Re: Live Rock 10/17/08 Thank you for your reply. <Welcome> I will buy the rock + some new as you recommend. <Good, I think this will work well for you.> I live on a small island there is only one garden centre that keep marine fish, and they have just started about 6 months ago. <Better than none I guess.> Prices are very expensive. <Seems like it, about double what I pay here in the US.> Thanks for the reply Kenny Logie <Enjoy the new tank.> <Chris>

Reusing Dead Live Rock 10/15/08 Hi guys, A few months ago my tank crashed whilst I was away, in it I had 30kg of live rock all of it was sitting in stale water. <Bummer, sorry to hear that.> I removed it from the water and into fresh water but forgot to add salt so I know the rock is dead...Is there anyway I can reuse this rock? <For sure.> I have asked a few LFS but think they are saying no just to make more money from me ...If I add a few pieces of fresh live rock to my aquarium will my old dead live rock become living once again......hope you can help cheers Craig <This is the idea behind which many systems are successfully set up a bit cheaper, dead live rock! Some call it base rock (among other names), there is a company making this stuff even more popular as of late. You will just want to rinse and scrub all the dead material off that you can. Then, just stick this stuff in the bottom with your new live rock on top. I would use a good bit of new rock, perhaps two-three parts old to one part new. Keep in mind the old rock will not populate overnight, it will take a while. Cheers, Scott V.>

Re: Larger Scale Live Rock Alternative - 08/21/08 WWM Folks, <<Howdy Ryan>> After much deliberation and fretting, we have decided against "substituting" rock with anything. <<…?>> We have located a few pallets of "dead" rock, and have settled on the fact that this is going to be our best option, for many reasons. <<Ah, ok…and I agree…even "dead" rock is a better alternative than any non-marine (e.g. - terrestrial rock) or artificial (e.g. - concrete, ceramic) substitute in my estimation. If only for the buffering and bio-mineral content>> (Obviously "cost effectiveness" is not one of those reasons!) The issue of our existing 1,000lbs of rock potentially needing a "boost" was brought up in our last message, and this is what concerns us now. <<Okay>> With 2,000lbs of rock on its way, we want to be sure that we are going to have enough bacteria to get things rockin' in the most effective and timely manner possible. <<I see… That which is most beneficial in my mind re bio-diversity would be to add some "new" live rock to the system. "Fresh" rock would be best…and have little impact re spiking the nitrogen cycle considering the volume of your system and the current amount of cured rock. A couple boxes of new rock scattered throughout the rest would certainly give that "boost">> I've spent some time reading through a few of the ideas regarding bottled bacteria, and their effectiveness, but they mainly seem to be focused at the home aquarium, not a 3,000 gallon facility. <<Indeed…and generally used to start/restart the biological processes in new and damaged home systems…though adding to a healthy system can also be of benefit>> With the amount of "amazing and wonderful" products that are available today, in your opinion, which has proven effective? <<Hands down "Bio-Spira"… This is a refrigerated product that is very effective, but considering the size of your system I think some live rock would prove no more expensive>> And would there be any benefit (or draw backs) to combining multiple manufacturers products for something on this scale? (i.e. Seachem Stability, Marc Weiss Boost, etc?) <<These others will be of varying to even questionable utility…bets to stick with just the Bio-Spira if you go this route…though I like the live rock idea better>> With a considerable amount of water and rock, I'm sure one bottle won't do it, <<Indeed…>> so should I make some crazy bacteria cocktail? <<You could I suppose…but using a mix of un-refrigerated products that have been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long will be of unknown value>> Any thoughts on the negative results this might produce? <<The negative aspect is slight…the possible addition of a product or products that do little more than pollute the system. I suggest you either not worry about it at all and let the existing system "ramp up" the new rock in time, or use the Bio-Spira and/or live rock in whatever amounts you can afford…and maybe still having to wait a bit for the system to balance. There's no overnight wonder-product for what you seek…but the fact you already have 1,000lbs of cured/bio-active rock along with a large amount of water (do mix the old water with the new) is in your favor re getting the system up and running quickly>> Thanks again, Ryan <<A pleasure to share. Eric Russell>>

Refugium Technical Help / Copper Removal from Rock Please 7/11/08Hello Bob and the great Crew at WWM-I'd like to start off by thanking you for the valuable knowledge you have shared with the reef aquarium community and the helping me create an amazing ecosystem (my super sized Rose Tip BTA just split into two to much amusement to my gold-striped mated pair maroon clowns who have spawned since). <Gorgeous!> I have been battling hair algae in my reef tank for over a year now since adding some live rock about a year ago (55 gallon, t-5 lighting, Eheim filter, red sea protein skimmer). Its a mature tank 3 yrs+ and I dare say is overstocked (see attached pics I have higher resolution too but I wasn't sure if they'd go through email). <They're here> My nitrates, phosphates are at continuously at zero (im sure their higher just not picking them up in the tests). <Mmm, no... much more likely these are being "scarfed up" by your photosynthetic, chemotrophic life/processes here> I try to perform bi-monthly water changes at 10%. I tried reduced lighting from 12 hours to 8 hours six months ago but then my BTA and corals don't seem as full or bright so I returned to 12 hour lighting and the hair algae has been growing. So I have finally purchased a sump which I am converting to a Refugium and have some technical questions which I could not find the answers to in the library: 1) I scored about 40 lbs of gorgeous Marshall Island dead rock from a former reefer who had used a large amount of copper in his main FOWLR tank. The rock looks okay from afar, but on close inspection there is a slight green tint of copper on all the rocks. <!?> I tried boiling it but the tint is still there. What can I do to remove all copper from this rock before I cure it into Live Rock? <Perhaps melt a good deal off with dilute (inorganic likely) acid... I'd try Muriatic (3 molar HCl)... diluted by at least five times... do take care to do this with eye protection, doing as you "outta, adding acid to water"... outdoors where there is good air circulation> (the least expensive method would be most suitable for me) 2) Should I place rocks that are heavily infested with Hair Algae in the refugium or keep them in the main tank? <In the refugium> Or will the Hair Algae go away in due time if I leave it in the main tank and add the refugium? <More likely in the 'fuge...> 3) Should I place Rock or Macro Algae in the first chamber where the water comes into the refugium from the overflow? <Yes> (I will also have an ideal mud bed with live rock and macro algae in the main refugium chamber area but I want to maximize all chambers). Thank you so much for your help. It is greatly appreciated. F. Alserri <Welcome. You might peruse this area: http://wetwebmedia.com/marsetupindex2.htm the second tray down; when you want a bit more re refugiums. Bob Fenner>  
Refugium Technical Help / Copper Removal from Rock Please*  7/15/08 Hello Bob and the great Crew at WWM- <Hello! Benjamin here today!> I'd like to start off by thanking you for the valuable knowledge you have shared with the reef aquarium community and the helping me create an amazing ecosystem (my super sized Rose Tip BTA just split into two to much amusement to my gold-striped mated pair maroon clowns who have spawned since). <Thanks so much, and I'm awfully glad it has benefited you and your livestock.> I have been battling hair algae in my reef tank for over a year now since adding some live rock about a year ago (55 gallon, t-5 lighting, Eheim filter, red sea protein skimmer). Its a mature tank 3 yrs+ and I dare say is overstocked (see attached pics I have higher resolution too but I wasn't sure if they'd go through email). My nitrates, phosphates are at continuously at zero (Im sure their higher just not picking them up in the tests). I try to perform bi-monthly water changes at 10%. I tried reduced lighting from 12 hours to 8 hours six months ago but then my BTA and corals don't seem as full or bright so I returned to 12 hour lighting and the hair algae has been growing. <mm...yes, will not treat the root cause, either. Unless you find and eliminate the source of nutrient the algae is using, it will only return.> So I have finally purchased a sump which I am converting to a Refugium and have some technical questions which I could not find the answers to in the library: <Ah! Good!> 1) I scored about 40 lbs of gorgeous Marshall Island dead rock from a former reefer who had used a large amount of copper in his main FOWLR tank. The rock looks okay from afar, but on close inspection there is a slight green tint of copper on all the rocks. I tried boiling it but the tint is still there. What can I do to remove all copper from this rock before I cure it into Live Rock? (the least expensive method would be most suitable for me) <Okay, some bad news: You've been had, perhaps unintentionally. Live rock that has been in a copper treated environment will never be suitable for use in a reef again; copper is absorbed deep in the rock and slowly leached if the rock is in water. There just isn't any way to clean and use this rock...sorry.> 2) Should I place rocks that are heavily infested with Hair Algae in the refugium or keep them in the main tank? Or will the Hair Algae go away in due time if I leave it in the main tank and add the refugium? <Species diversity will generally only drop in areas of disturbance. Leave these rocks be, and they should clear up as macroalgae in the refugium outcompete the microalgae.> 3) Should I place Rock or Macro Algae in the first chamber where the water comes into the refugium from the overflow? (I will also have an ideal mud bed with live rock and macro algae in the main refugium chamber area but I want to maximize all chambers). <I would put a bit of loose rock/rubble here. Water coming in will be saturated with oxygen, aerobic bacteria on this rock will break down ammonia into more useful nutrients for macroalgae, and in the process produce more carbon dioxide, also a boost to your algae> Thank you so much for your help. It is greatly appreciated. <No problem!> F. Alserri

Specific tank questions, 29 gal. SW, selling rock with desirable and not org.s    7/14/08 Thank you for the great resource you provide. I have been reading the FAQs daily for weeks and still have much to go. I was hoping I might get some specific advice on my relatively new (to me) saltwater setup. It is a 29g with 2x65w 50/50 power compacts. Contains about 20lbs of aragonite and 40-50lbs of LR. I also have a 20g sump . No fish yet only a green hermit. I intend to keep LPS and about 3 fish. This is my first saltwater tank. So here we go… I bought this setup used. It had been neglected for many months. I re-set it up and reused half the original water(had good parameters) to try to avoid a cycle and so far this has been successful. Here are my problems after 6 weeks. The tank is about overrun with mushroom coral. It is on every rock nearly everywhere and only getting larger by the minute. Where there is not mushroom coral, brown hydroids(myrionema) are sprouting up and multiplying as I type. <Mmmm> I don't want all the mushrooms(probably none of them) and I definitely don't want the hydroids.. I am thinking about removing the rock and chiseling off the pests.(may have to remove 30% of the rock) <... I would...> Do you think there is any other way to salvage the rock? Should I just scrap it and start over? What would you do if it were yours? <Oh, here we go. I'd look into selling, trading this rock (w/ Hydroids) to a dealer near you. The "other" pests can be eliminated with not too much effort, and the Corallimorphs sold for a profit to others who want them. With the proceeds you can likely buy new rock!> Thanks for the help. Matthew Harless <Welcome Matthew! Bob Fenner>

Larger Scale Live Rock Alternative - 07/09/08 Crew, <<Hey Ryan>> Thank you for providing such an extensive resource to our community, your service is second to none. <<Thank you much for the kind words…redeeming indeed>> I have read and re-read most of what has already been published here regarding different types of live rock "substitutes", (i.e. cinder blocks, lava rock, homemade, etc.), <<I see>> and our problem/situation is on a bit of different scale than those discussed thus far. <<Oh?>> We are in need of a much larger volume of rock, and due to the obvious costs, etc., are in search of ANY reliable alternatives. <<Mmm, I understand…but do realize there is no real "alternative" to live rock, only poor substitutes of varying degree>> We currently operate a coral propagation facility with roughly 1,300 gallons and 1,000lbs of rock that has been in our tanks for years. Well-seeded, to say the least. <<Maybe so…but also likely in need of a "boost">> January 1st, we are expanding to a new location, with roughly 5,000g planned, and would like to get "whatever it is we are going to use" for rock/bio, to start seeding in our current system right away. <<Some of your existing rock will serve well as a start-up bacteria culture…but after "years" is low in soluble bio-mineral content and alkaline reserve…as well as diminished bio-diversity>> We have the time and space now to start whatever "curing" process is going to be needed before introducing it into the current system, but we are concerned about the long term effects of items like cinder blocks, etc. leaching at the new shop. <<The biggest immediate concern is elevated pH (as high as 12.0 and above with new "cement" products), but this is easily "cured" down to acceptable levels…though the process can be lengthy (8 weeks or more). Long term issues in my experience with cement-based rock are excessive/problematic nuisance alga growth…and the fact that it provides no real bio-mineral content or buffer capacity/alkaline reserve>> So, my 2 questions are... Is there any truth to the different "soaking" methods (vinegar) to prevent this effect? <<The vinegar will not "prevent" anything…rather, the Acetic Acid can be useful in "speeding up" the curing process. I have no personal experience with this method as I have always just used a plain water-soak, and from what I have heard, the added cost/trouble is little worth it. But do feel free to give it a try and decide for yourself>> In dealing with something on this scale, has any rock substitute been proven reliable on a long term basis? <<Terrestrial limestone may well be your best choice here. It will be much more dense/heavy than good live rock, will not support as much bacteria load as live rock, and brings nothing to the table re bio-diversity…but can be bought cheaply in bulk, and is a more "natural" source than the cement-based products (e.g. - cinderblock)…and though you will need to test to be sure, it will not likely need "curing." With the limestone, do consider utilizing as much "new live rock" as you can to provide those needed elements the limestone can't provide…perhaps as much as a fifth of the total volume (but the more the better!)…doing so will also make the limestone "better">> Thank you for all that you folks do. Ryan Haag <<We are happy to assist. Eric Russell>>

Live Rock Selection…Commercial Grade Curing 3-22-08 I have searched your database on tons of Live Rock questions, and still have a few that didn't seem to get answered? <<I'll see what I can do to help you out.>> There is a LFS here in Utah. (One of the largest with the best Live Rock selection). I asked if they had large show size pieces for my 210, and they took me in the back where they had some 50-100lb giant pieces? <<Is that a question or a statement? Unfortunately I'm not there at the LFS to confirm that they have said pieces but I can give you a tip on live rock selection. When looking at liverock it's important to look at the density of the rock and how porous it is. For example it's possible to have a piece of liverock that is 6 square inches and one that is 12 square inches and have them weigh the exact thing because one piece of rock I much more dense than the other.>> As I was rummaging through, I felt the water and it was Ice cold? The guy said they keep rock here to get rid of mantis shrimp and other pests? Now my question is wouldn't this kill all the good life forms and aerobic and internally anaerobic bacteria?? That seems silly to ship it all the way for the purpose of "Live" rock just to kill it with freezing saltwater. <<Well I will start off by saying this; no matter how you care for newly acquired live rock there will always be some die off and sometimes there will be **a lot** of dies off. A "curing" process is often necessary to condition the rock for use in a closed system. There is of course multiple ways about doing this, some that I favor more over others. It sounds like your LFS is doing what I like to call "commercial grade curing." Ideal curing as described here in this article; http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm would cost the LFS a lot more time, effort, resources and thus money. The LFS attendant was right the lower temperatures are going to kill or eliminate a lot of the unwanted pests along with a majority of the other tropical creatures in the live rock. As far as bacteria, you don't have anything to worry about there; it can endure the temperatures and recover quite easily given the right condition. Unfortunately while this live rock may eventually be useful in a closed system it will lack a lot of life that desired by many reef aquarists, it's a trade off. Depending on the price it still may be worth it for base rock or as your "infrastructure" if you find a large piece that you like. You could always supplement it with liverock from another source. The trade off here is that you will have to take a more active role in the curing which means a longer time lapse as well as more effort in removing the unwanted organisms.>> Also, do you know anyone that ships directly from the source to your house? <<Many online or e-tailers offer more "direct-routes." To get some anecdotes you can ask around on our new forum; http://bb.WetWebMedia.com/ .>> As I am worried about this crappy practice a couple of the LFS are doing? <<It's not uncommon, though as I said not desired by most reef aquarists...think of it as the difference between a home cooked meal and fast food, both have their pros and cons.>> Thank you so much, I love all the great advice you all give. <<Good luck on your quest, - Adam J.>>

Buying quality live rock... sel. LR   03/15/2008 Hey gang, <John> Thanks for the great site. I have really enjoyed the many articles I have read over the last couple of months since I found you. I have had aquariums for going on 30 years (including a 55 gallon fish only tank a few years ago). After a few year break I have decided to set up a 75 gallon tank which in the short term I want to set up as a FOWLR system but if all goes well I hope to develop into a reef tank. <Okay> I am just getting started but so far have the 75 gallon All-Glass drilled tank ( only one drain and one return unfortunately); oceanic 30 gallon sump; Mag Drive 700 return pump; Sea Clone 100 protein skimmer ( a gift I received from my brother so I want to try and get it to work despite all I have read :-( ); a basic single bulb light strip with a 50/50 bulb; and a 300 watt heater. I realize I will have to completely redo the lighting but am hoping to get by with this light strip for now as the money outlay to get to this point has been a challenge. <Mmm, won't support much photosynthetic life here> So finally my question. I have never used live rock but am sold by all the information I have read on your sight. I understand through the curing process there will be die back and that the Live Rock will take some time to become fully established, but how selective should I be in purchasing live rock? <Very... expensive, important choices... some is outright junk, garbage... need to be able to discern... value> What I mean is that as I check the Live Rock available at my LFS, it doesn't appear to have much of the purple coralline algae or other growths that I can see. <98, 99 percent plus of the life is gone from most "live rock"... denuded intentionally and bumped off through transport, handling rigors> It certainly has some, but mostly just slight pink or in many cases brownish color but no combinations of sponges or algaes. The owner says it loses the majority on shipping and curing  <This is so> but in time will come back strong. <This is not so> Should I worry or as long as there is something indicating it is not completely dead will it bloom as he promises? Should I expect there to be more obvious diversity and therefore should look for other sources of Live Rock? <... IF it were me, mine, I'd look for "box" volume deals and bring in your own... a box or two... Read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/lrselfaqs.htm and the linked files above...> Thanks again for all your efforts and the wonderful site. A reefer in the making (I hope). John <Me too... Bob Fenner>

Snowflake eel; comp; now sand sifting star and cheap live rock - 03/03/08 Wow thanks for the quick response. <No problem, Jiahua.> Yeah, I thought as much (but I don't think I have seen an adult moray). It was only a spur of the moment thing when I go to my LFS and see new things. And for your concerns referring to my system and star, I got the sand and live rock first and let it sit there for about three months (long enough?), before getting the moray and I have around 2-3 inches of sand for my star. <If it is well populated (worm burrows etc.), it should be okay. Personally I tend to wait almost a year before getting sand sifting sea stars. Also I personally prefer deeper sand beds (DSB) to help with denitrification. Compare: www.wetwebmedia.com/deepsandbeds.htm .> Oh yeah, one more thing: No matter where I look, live rock is always $6.99 a pound and I think it's a lot of money especially that I'm only a senior in high school and going to college. This was originally a huge project for school, but it grew into more of a hobby. Do you have any suggestions as to where I can find good deals for live rock? I want my snowflake to have more spaces to hide than just one rock and some PVC. <I've had both, very good and pretty bad experiences with live rock from fellow hobbyists selling their stuff online. It is usually at least half the price, sometimes cheaper. However, it is without a doubt preferable to see the rock and select the best pieces. For high quality live rock the price you noted above is reasonable in trade. Don't put too much live rock into a running system at once to avoid a mini cycle. Dead reef rock is much cheaper than live rock and provides the same cover, but it won't provide as much biological filtration. I'd prefer live rock and add new pieces whenever money allows.> -Thank you, Jiahua <Have fun. Marco.>

Reef Aquascaping…Do I need All That Rock? - 02/20/08 Hi, <<Hello>> I have a 75g tank. It has about 75-80 pounds of rock. 30 pounds of it are 3 gorgeous 10 pound Marshall show pieces. <<Nice…though maybe a bit large for this size tank (matter of opinion)>> I am sure you know how costly that was, well at least to me. <<Indeed>> A friend keeps pushing that I need to buy a lot more rock, and it must be purchased at one time, before I can hire his service to redecorate. <<…?! Hmm, I wouldn't be too quick to do this…I think we hobbyists often add "too much" rock to our systems; only to discover effective water flow throughout the tank is difficult to achieve , corals have no room to grow, fish have no room to swim/exhibit normal behavior , etc. The rock you have now will likely handle your bio-filtration needs just fine…and if you have a substrate, this too will provide much benefit/support re. Much better to not overfill the system with rock, in my opinion>> Why? <<Perhaps misguided advice…perhaps trying to make a sale…don't know really>> I am disabled and the rock I bought previously, I bought a little at a time at another store. I need the reasoning behind this statement. <<If the rock is not cured, buying and curing all at once (outside the system) reduces the repeated hassle…but there is no reason you can't also do this piecemeal. Of course, buying fully-cured rock from a reputable source you trust takes away this argument as you can add as little or as much at time as you want>> Am I just being pushed for sales? <<Is "your" friend…what do "you" think?>> Also, since Marshall is lighter weight, is the poundage weight equal to what is needed by another type of rock, or is less weight ok? <<The lighter more porous rock should provide more benefit/bio-filtration per pound than a denser heavier rock, yes>> I have had my tank up for a year. I have gone very slowly. <<Ah, patience! A very rewarding virtue here>> I have ONE percula clown, a brittle star, a few snails and hermits. I recently added my first corals, two tiny little frags. <<"Slowly" indeed…>> My other question. I have received so many conflicting information regarding tangs, from others. <<Ah well, the hobby is rife with opinion…and you won't find it any different here [grin] >> Some say 75 is not large enough and recommend a 100g. In Fenner's book, page 304, he states at least a 50. <<…and then dependent upon species>> This book was revised in 2001. Has he changed his opinion on this since? <<Let's ask him…Bob?>><Is posted... RMF> I hope he still agrees with that statement, since I would love a tang in my 75g. <<If you stick to a small aquarium hardy species, and overstock the tank, then yes, I feel you would be fine adding a Tang to this tank. I think either Zebrasoma flavescens (Yellow Tang) or Ctenochaetus strigosus (Kole Tang) would make a suitable addition>> One more question. <<Okay>> Since the tang will be in a 75g, will it be more prudent to have more open swimming area at top, or is it ok to keep stacking rock. (Remember I have 75-80 pounds) <<"More open swimming area" gets my vote>> On a final note, I was thrilled to find this site. <<We too are happy you found us>> I cannot read Mr. Fenner's book enough. It stays on my coffee table so I can pick it up whenever I want, and guests find it a lovely sofa table book. Stacey <<I'm sure Bob will be pleased to know. Regards, EricR>> >Better than Oprah? RMF<

Re: AndyB pc. on Dendro and no Aiptasia in the Atlantic claims  2/17/08 Bob, <Andy> I will be happy to help in any way I can, but I must caution that I have no biology background or experience with preparing/writing such works. <Au contraire my friend. You obviously have a good grasp of written English communication... and enough "science" to relate your experiences here. I assure you of this> If you can provide a little more specific guidance on what, exactly, you're interested in (what type of photos, what type of specs, what type of narrative, etc.), I will gladly take this on. <Images of your system, the foods used, the specimen itself from a few angles, perhaps under various lighting... The writing, in your own voice... simply detailing your interest, background... the history of your keeping this specimen... Speculations you have, may have re your success> On another note, I have a question about Aiptasia. I have been debating this issue with a LFS owner, which sells Florida aqua-cultured LR exclusively. He claims that his LR is guaranteed Aiptasia-free, because they do not exist in the Atlantic/Caribbean. <Uhh, not so> His claim is as follows: "OUR FLORIDA AQUA CULTURED "LIVE ROCK" IS HAND PICKED. IT IS LEGALLY HARVESTED AFTER 6 - 16 YEARS. SHIPPED WITH HEAT PACKS OR ICE PACKS AND (WHICH EVER IS NEEDED) WITH ANEMONES, SEA SQUIRTS, MUSSELS, GORG.S., SPONGES, STARFISH, TOOTH CORALS AND BRAIN CORALS ALL OF WHICH LIVES. NO NEED TO CURE BECAUSE NOTHING IS "DYING". APPROX. 6 HOURS FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN TO THE BOTTOM OF OUR TANKS. NO APTASIA IN THE ATLANTIC!" My research suggests that Aiptasia do, indeed, come from the Atlantic. <This is also assuredly so... Have seen them there, many times...> Interestingly, I believe the Aiptasia that I did have in my tank (before the Butterfly) were acquired from a few pieces of LR that I bought from him. Andy <Do send this note to the company, rep... Perhaps their mis-spelling of the genus is some ploy at avoiding suit. BobF>

Finding Quality Live Rock   2/13/08 Hello WWM, <Matthew> I am wondering if anyone in the crew knows any contacts from Bali who can transship quality pieces of live rock individually wrapped in wet newspaper. <... Mmm, yes... though very expensive... you need to buy an LD3... many boxes to make this make sense economically> I went into a fish store in Los Angeles where I wasn't able to get specific information on that live rock supplier for obvious reasons. I would really appreciate any contacts you may have or know where would be the best place to find quality live rock from Bali or Indonesia for that matter. <... I won't give references out to strangers... This passes as an endorsement...> If not there, then perhaps elsewhere besides Fiji or Tonga? <Mmm... do send along a bit more information... Are you a store? Looking to buy a large quantity? There are friends in the marine wholesale livestock trade in LA... on 104th esp., who might be willing to let you poke about...> I would really like to get a hold of rock that has at least 2 different colorations of coralline, some macro-algae, tube worms, copepods, sponges etc... I am not really satisfied curing Fiji rock that ultimately results in only 1 color of coralline. I'd like to find a supplier who can provide much more biodiversity... Thanks for your help, Matthew <Mmmm. Be chatting, Bob Fenner>

Re: Finding Quality Live Rock 2/13/08 Bob, <Matthew> Forgive me for not introducing myself to you earlier. My name is Matthew Martin and I am in the process of starting a Home & Office Saltwater Aquarium Installation and Service business for the Westside of Los Angeles called "Speedy Aquariums". <Oh!> I currently buy from Sea Dwelling Creatures and Pacific Aqua Farms. Their live rock is good but sometimes I don't feel like I am really getting the "best" kind of rock that I am seeing in some other retail outlets around here. <Mmm, well... I'd see, speak with Eric Cohen at SDC... and Dave at PAF re... they have access to the best of the best...> This is very important for my business because I want to be able to have short curing times which is more of a reality with high quality rock. <I understand, and agree... I STRONGLY encourage your p/re-curing whatever you buy, at your own facility... ahead of using in customers' tanks> If you are unable to give contacts I understand. <Would avail you nothing of value... Again, there is no economic sense in your trying to buy direct, or through transhippers... the LR available at/through the two dealers you mention is the zenith of what is available. Trying to import it yourself will prove this to you... at a large expense. For browsers, the "A" players get the best (and it is far below what a casual customer will pay) air freight rates... and are facile at CITES, Customs, other rigmarole involved in import...> It would be very helpful though. In the meantime, I just got some Tonga Branch Rock from PAF, looked great when I bought it, I hear that it is common for the rock to go white during/after the curing process. I would like some better insight on how to maintain coralline algaes throughout the process...do I lower temp to around 74-75, salinity 1.021-1.022? <Mmm, no... I would keep SPG NSW strength... need to boost, maintain biomineral AND alkaline concentrations... All posted on WWM> whats your best recommendation on maintaining alk/calcium for this process in a gray titan bin with a top fathom 300 skimmer running on it? Thanks, Matthew Martin speedyaquariums.com <Again... this information is archived, available through cursory searching/reading on WetWebMedia.com... Bob Fenner>

Re: Finding Quality Live Rock Bob, <Matt> Much appreciated for your help thus far. I will see what I can do to maintain biomineral availability AND alk. for curing liverock. I had been keeping the sg 1.024-1.025 and temp 77-78, and replacing evap water with Kalkwasser. I will speak with the suppliers and see what tips they'd recommend and also look into Walt's Fiji Gold live rock supplement and experiment with its effectiveness. Good day, Matthew <Mmm, okay. I'd given him a different formula for... instead of the finally ground up natural... Even this should be of some value. B>

Re: Finding Quality Live Rock Bob, <Big M> Thought I should let you know of an obvious mistake I had just realized about my 200 gal. LR cure vat... There was only a Rio 1400 UL/420gph pump running the circ. Woops! Turn over needs to be at least 5 times per hour I think.. so am <am?> looking into getting a Hyperflow ~1200 gph to better circulate oxygen, calcium, alk. better and reduce nuisance brown which is starting to coat everything in there. Also...ive read somewhere not to keep the 175w 10k metal halide above on for 12 hrs....more like 3-4 hrs per day if any during the curing process to prevent burning them. Thanks for your thoughts and opinions on these observations. -Matthew <Welcome. B>

Questions on setup ideas... LR tank, interesting speculations re.    2/11/08 Dear WWM Folks, <Jacob> First, you have a great site here. There is an enormous wealth of information just waiting to be pored over. I have been looking over the FAQs and using the google tool, but there is such a wealth of information that I am sure I missed the answer to my questions somewhere. I am new to the hobby and have a 24g NanoCube that has been going for about a year now. I am planning out my next tank and realizing that the life that came on my live rock (aquacultured in Florida and uncured) is much more interesting to me than any of the corals or fish I have subsequently added. I am planning a tank based largely on uncured liverock with a minimum of fish and mobile invertebrates added, all consistent with where the specific rock was obtained. My goal, quite simply, is maximum biodiversity. I would like my set up to be as close to a working eco-web as possible, preferably only feeding the bottom of the food chain. <With... light, mineral replacement/supplementation?> I don't have a size or shape in mind yet; I want to go with whatever setup will best achieve my goals. <Can/could veritably be a drop...> My first question concerns how to circulate the water without killing all the wee buggers floating in the water column. My first thought is to use a very low head airlift system. <Ahh! Yes, possible> The plan would be to use an airlift system to move water into a sump on the same level, through drilled bulkheads then use gravity to return the water through a closed loop manifold. I know you can move an enormous amount of water via an airlift but I am concerned that there won't be enough pressure to power the closed loop manifold. <Could be> I have not been able to find any information on this manner of moving water in saltwater aquaria. Do you have any advice on where I might be able to find this information? <In "old books", by Stephen Spotte, Martin Moe...> Do you have any other ideas on how to provide adequate circulation without damaging the micro flora and fauna in the water column? <Yes... see some works on aquaculture... there is a good intro. for pet-fish folks... by Frank Hoff... see the etailers of books re...> Another question I have is: in order to ensure maximum survival of the life coming in on the live rock ,what depth is good to collect from? <Most any/all reasonable depths... inter-tidal to snorkel...> There are a number of companies aquaculturing live rock at various depths and I don't know which environments would be easiest to replicate. <The organisms will "sort themselves out" per the conditions you present...> I intuit that shallower water needs more intense lighting and more current, but deeper water animals would need less light and less water movement which might be better suited to the airlift system but then the problem would be solids settling out in the quiescent zones. Which has the fewer downsides? <Again... you have good ideas... I assure you the life is flexible... some will be favored... persist... What will happen over time re this biota... diversity, abundance-wise?> I guess the main question is, is there any literature on keeping saltwater aquariums where the contents are not stocked, but grow off the liverock; aquariums where the liverock and it's associated flora and fauna is the focus, not the backdrop, of the aquarium? <Not as far as I'm aware... but there might well be... at least tangentially... Hard to search the pet-fish literature as most of it is not picked up by citation services (my usual on-going warning to editors to retain and publish bibliographies... a yes/no benchmark for inclusion here)... You might be the instigator, producer of the first written work/s of this topic> To all the WWM crew, thank you. You have a wonderful resource here and I very much appreciate that you are willing to take the time to answer what must be a large number of often redundant questions. Thank you, again. Sincerely Jacob L'Etoile <I do encourage your looking into an inexpensive low res. microscope... the QX series are to be pursued here. Bob Fenner>

Life on live rock 01/15/2008 Hi! <<Hello Danielle, Andrew here>> I have been curing live rock in my tank since October. My ammonia just arrived at 0. The bad thing is that I have not noticed any life on the live rock. I had to transfer the rock to move my tank. Could that have killed the remaining life on my rocks? If so, what beneficial invertebrate should I use to repopulate the tank? <<Certainly nothing to worry about, live will soon start to re-form by itself on the live rock, just takes some time>> Thanks in advance for your assistance, Danielle A. Smith <<Thanks for the question, A Nixon>>

Tank volumes/Live Rock 01/10/2008 <<Hello, Andrew here>> Hello crew and thank you for any help that you may be able to provide me. I was wondering if you are aware of any formula or rule of thumb for determining just how much volume Live rock takes away from our total tank volume. Thank you for any help that you may be able to provide. Mark <<The best way to measure water displacement, is to have a tub with a set volume of water, add an amount of rock, and measure the water displaced. All water displacement will be different as different rocks have different density>> <<Thanks for the question, A Nixon>>

Live Rock? (nontechnical)... Supplier  11/15/07 Hello Bo <Hi John, Mich with you tonight.> Curious to know if there are any reputable sources to buy online Premium Fiji Cured? <Have you tried Walt Smith? More here: http://www.waltsmith.com/ > Thanks, <Welcome!> your site is very appreciated. <Nice to hear!> Regards, John <Cheers, Mich>

Buffers and Caribbean/Florida Live Rock 10/3/07 Hi Crew, Thanks for taking my e-mail today! <Been a few days now I think. Sorry about that...> I have a question about using buffers in my reef system. I am currently using Seachem Reef Buffer (pH Buffer) to supplement my top off water. I also have their reef Builder (non-pH buffer) but I haven't really been using it. I add enough Reef Buffer routinely to keep my alkalinity above 3meq/L. I have heard that people dislike using pH buffers. I assume this is because the addition of too much at once could drive up the pH resulting in calcium carbonate precipitation. My pH is usually around 8.2 during the day. The reason I use pH buffer in my top-off water in the first place is because I do not like adding low-pH top-off water to my system. <Have you thought about using Kalkwasser? Calcium hydroxide is great because it can raise your pH, your alkalinity and your calcium all at once. It might also help with phosphates as well as some other possible such fringe benefits.> I notice less of an impact on my SPS corals (polyps closing) when using pH buffer. Since my pH is 8.2 would the best course of action be this? : add enough pH buffer to top-off water to reach a pH of 8.2 (same as system) and then use non-pH buffer for the rest of my alkalinity supplementation via top-off water. If I continue to use pH buffer exclusively, then would it be best to limit the amount of pH buffered top-off water I add to my system so that the pH climbs no more than .2 points (ie 8.2 to 8.4, similar to how Anthony Calfo doses Kalkwasser)? Also, if I see no rise in my pH over time with use of pH buffer, then is there any problem/disadvantage using pH buffer that I am not seeing? <I think you're thinking a little too hard about this. pH naturally rises and falls throughout the course of a day (up to even .4 variation is pretty normal). Anthony Calfo probably likes Kalkwasser for the same reasons I do (see above). If ever the Kalk should fail you in calcium or alkalinity, you can simply use baking soda and/or calcium chloride to adjust accordingly. For details on that, please see here: www.asira.org/practicalchemistrybasics> My other question is in regard to Atlantic Live Rock. I want to create a Ricordea biotope in the near future. Even if they don't come from the same depths/environments I want to at least keep Western Atlantic Fish/Inverts. I was thinking about putting Live Rock from Western Atlantic in there as well but I have heard quite a few drawbacks with that rock. I have heard that it often has bristleworms and Aiptasia. <Bristleworms are good things. Aiptasia not so much, but they can be managed with quarantine.> I have also heard that the rock is very dense. Would it be best to just skip this part of the biotope and use Pacific Rock? <Well, technically, if you use Pacific rock, you don't really have a "biotope" anymore. But otherwise, I don't think it makes too much a difference. The Ricordea should do fine with either.> I have liked it in all my other systems. Sorry for the long e-mail and thanks again for taking the time to answer my questions! Thank You, Tim <De nada, Sara M.>

New Set up! How Much Live Rock to Add? - 9/28/07 Crew, <Hello Jason, Brenda here> This is my first time writing in. I would like to start off by complimenting all the work put into this site, the time volunteered by you all, and the insight brought to the hobby by your advice and answers. <Thank you!> I've looked over this site for nearly a month now (old-timer). <HeeHee> I have already consumed more information here than I have in my few years of this hobby. <Great! Glad you find it helpful!> Thank you. <You're welcome!> I've been in the aquatics husbandry for 2 and a half years now, though only venturing through the slightly brackish waters of African Cichlids, mostly Malawi breeds. I have, just this evening, begun my journey through the darker waters of the ocean environment. <Welcome to the addiction!> A BioCube 29 gallon was purchased and set up with 18 lbs of live Caribbean Sand and 25 lbs of Fiji Live Rock. 18 gallons of premix saltwater - 1.024 Sg - is all it took to fill the tank the rest of the way up (took out the bio-balls too). I've put the recommended dosage of the Kent Reef Starter Kit, as in .5 tsp of Liq Calcium, .5 tsp of Strontium & Molybdenum, and .5 tsp of Iodine. Saturday I will begin weekly dosing of Purple Up... 3 ml. Since the pump has been on I've cleaned the filter cartridge numerous times to keep the initial debris clear of the system and water flow. I'll do my first water test tomorrow at work. <Be careful here. Get into the habit of testing your parameters before dosing.> Fortunate me, I found work at my local fish store only a month ago. I suppose I have to be patient through this slow and cycling period. Though, before I know it, it'll be done, and I can begin stocking, carefully, till my heart's content. <Don't over do it with stocking. One fish per week or two, and quarantine everything.> This site will be my first stop (after my tank of course!!) after work to see if something new has come to light, or just something oddball. <Great! We'll be here for you!> Seeing other tanks around my city while on service calls, and from pictures here on this site, I think I may need another 10-15 lbs of live rock. What do you think? Heh... finally, the question! <Yes, I would add a bit more live rock. I would aim for 1 ? lbs per gallon here, but don't overcrowd with rock. This can be added over time. If you are going to be adding coral, some of the coral may come with live rock. You are off too a great start with the 25lbs.> Again, thank you so much for hearing me out (and most everyone else). You all are awesome. <You're welcome! Good luck with your new setup! Brenda> Jason B.

Stocking, LR Diversity 9/5/07 Good evening dear Crew Member! Who draws the late shift this night? <Evidently no one, but Chris here this morning.> I have a couple of questions and thanks for your patience in working through these: The first - actually concerning my favorite part of saltwater keeping - has to do with stocking, and I would like your advice. Soon, I will be moving my Rabbitfish, a Siganus unimaculatus, to larger quarters and I will replace him with 1 or 2 smaller fishes, if possible. His current environment is a 46 gallon bowfront with LR/LS. His current mates are (1) Tomato Clown, (1) 6-Line Wrasse, (1) Azure Damsel, (1) Royal Gramma, and (1) Falco's Hawkfish. This semi-aggressive group gets along amazingly well together in a very healthy system. Since I would then like to also slowly begin adding Zooanthids, mushrooms, and a few LPS corals, I would like to replace the Rabbit with 1 other "reef safe" fish, 2 at the very most. My thoughts lean towards one of my favorites, a Twinspot Hog; or perhaps one of the small Centropyge spp. that is less reef destructive, i.e. a Fisher's, Flameback, Cherub, or Resplendent Angel; or a substrate bound fish (one that can fend for himself among these residents); perhaps another moderate sized Wrasse of some sort, maybe the somewhat smaller Cortez Rainbow Wrasse (Thalassoma lucasanum); and I also thought about the possibility of adding a Saddled Valentini Puffer (Canthigaster valentini) or its mimic, the Saddled Filefish (Paraluteres prionurus). There are many fishes that could have gone in first with these current inhabitants but the selection(s) is/are limited since this would be the last introduction and it must be reasonably tough. Do you have any thoughts or suggestions...perhaps something new and different that I have not thought of? Feel free to shoot holes in my proposals. <Honestly I think you are pretty well stocked, I would stay away from the angels, while small they like fairly large territories for their size, and if you are determined to add another fish I would stick with a bottom dweller, some sort of blenny or goby perhaps.> On a second note, this same system houses about 50 - 60 lbs. of live rock which is about 6 years old now (well...actually eons, but who's counting?). Once the 6-Line was introduced it especially drew my attention as he doesn't seem to find as much forage on the rock as I think he should; same for the Hawk, etc. I am concerned now that the LR which used to accommodate a plethora of organisms is becoming void of life. I certainly don't see the "pods" that once thrived. My nitrate level (~30 - 40 ppm) also seems to support the theory that there are not enough micro-organisms to mitigate these deleterious levels. I plan to switch out a few pieces of the older rock for some newly cured pieces to hopefully boost the biodiversity. Other steps that I am taking are to add a refugium which should be in place/running within a couple of months as well as increasing the sand bed depth from 3". I have also had some discussions with some "reefers" who suggested dosing with a liquid phytoplankton product to increase the reproduction of nitrate consuming organisms. Does this sound like a feasible solution to help restore/regenerate some life? <Replacing some of the rock is definitely a good idea, the diversity of the rock does diminish over time for sure. A refugium will help too. As far as the adding products to help build bacterial levels, it won't help, and only make it worse. De-nitrating bacteria lives deep in rocks and sandbeds, where there is little O2, and a limited amount of suitable areas in most tanks are what limit this, not a lack of nutrients.> As always, Thanks for your help and hard work! David A. Bell <Chris>

Re-use of Live Rock 8/15/07 Hi Gang, <Hello> I'm restarting my marine keeping hobby after an absence of 3 years. When the last tank broke spilling 100s of litres of salt water over the living room I wisely cleaned and put aside all my gear and live rock pending this day. The wife and I are now talking again. :-) <A forgiving wife.> No doubt the rock (approx 150kg) is fairly dead by now but will presumably liven up in good time. The rocks were put away in sealed boxes void of sunlight in the garage. <Wet or dry?> My query is this. Are there any special precautions I should take before re-introducing the rock to cycle my new tank? Or do I treat it just as if I were buying it new from my LFS? Many thanks in advance. Dave <If it was stored dry it is most likely completely dead, and should be thoroughly cleaned before using it, otherwise you will be adding too much dead material to the tank. If it was stored wet there may be some life left, but I would still give it a good cleaning in salt water with a tooth brush to try to remove as much dead material as possible. Either way I would get a little new rock to reseed what you already have.> <Chris>

Re: Re-use of Live Rock 8/15/07 Hi Chris, <Hello> Much appreciative of the quick response. <Welcome> The rock was stored dry - so yes it will be completely dead. My plan for cleaning was to first water blast each rock thoroughly to remove as much dead material as possible from the outside. Then I would thoroughly rinse and soak each rock in RO water before placing back into the dry storage boxes prior to putting in the tank. <Sounds good> A couple more queries if I may. <Sure> I hadn't planned on using a toothbrush (smacks of painting the Eiffel Tower with a hobby brush :-)) <Heehee> - the water blasting will achieve the same won't it? <You will be surprised how stubborn some stuff will be to remove, could use a larger wire brush to help speed up the process. You will never get it all off, but you want to get as much as possible.> I could easily salt my RO water - but is there any benefit to doing this? <Nope, not if it was stored dry, plain old tap water will be fine.> Cheers Dave <Chris>

Adding live rock with some growth on it to a non-reef tank. Live Rock Addition 7/19/07 Good morning, <Hello whomever you are.> Stupid question of the day! <Only stupid answers.> I am cycling my fish only tank (no fancy lighting etc). I want to buy some live rock from another person, where the rock has some bulbs etc growing on it. Is this a bad idea as the growth will die in my tank without proper lighting etc? <It may or may not die depending on what the growth is. I don't like the sound of "bulbs". Sure sounds like the growth may be the dreaded Valonia (Bubble Algae). If so, you certainly do not want this to take a foothold in your tank. Send a pic if possible and we can identify.> Thanks <You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

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

Live Rock and Ich Parasite 6/14/07 Hello crew, <Hello> I have Live rock that I pulled out of a marine tank that was infected with Ich. The rock has been in a black plastic garbage bag in a Styrofoam cooler for about 2 months. The rock is still damp. <Must have smelled lovely.> I would like to use this rock in a refugium. <Will need to be recured I think.> Now to my question. What are the chances that the Ich parasite is still alive but dormant on the still damp rock. <Very close to 0.> I do not want to reinfect anything with this rock. <Exceedingly unlikely.> Any ideas or suggestions on how to proceed would be fantastic. Thanks Harry <Your real concern here is the die-off on the rock, it will need to be recured outside of your aquarium, otherwise it will trash you water quality and drop a ton on nutrients into the system fueling algae and other undesirables. Ich should not be an issue here.> <Chris>

Live rock question, reseeding  5/17/07 Hi, <Hello Danielle, Mich with you today.> I need instructions on how to start up my saltwater tank again.  I broke the tank down this past February so that we could change the flooring. The tank will be down for another few weeks, until the installations are finished.  The live rock is in large tubs, along with power heads. There were no fish to worry about; my butterfly died a month before.   <I'm sorry.> I checked the salinity and it is high (approximately 30 ppm). I don't know how long the salinity has been that high, and I doubt that there is any life left on the rock. <You would be surprised now many organisms can adjust when the change is gradual.  If you look closely, you might even see some Scuds/Gammarus shrimp scurrying about.  I think there is likely still some life remaining on the rock.  Examine it closely and see what if, anything you see.> In your honest opinion is the live rock salvageable?  If so, how do I repopulate the tank with beneficial organisms? <Yes it is salvageable.  More info here and related links in blue:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrfaqs.htm There are two possible two courses of action here as I see it.  You could very slowly bring down the salinity over a course of weeks, once you it is back into a more desirable range, you may want to pick up a couple of new pieces of live rock or trade some rock with a friend to better reseed and diversify the life remaining on the live rock, or you could immediately bring down the salinity which will likely kill any remaining life seed your old rock with some new (or new to you) and allow the life to grow and develop over the next several weeks.  Hope this helps.  Mich> Danielle A. Smith

Quarantine Tank Live Rock?    - 03/09/07 Hi, <Hi Brian, Mich here.> I have a question about live rock I used in a quarantine tank: What can I do with it now?  I received a regal angel a few days ago from liveaquaria.com.  It was stressed out, so I bought a 10g tank and set it up as a quarantine (just the tank, two pieces of cured live rock bought from my LFS for cover, a heater, and a small BioWheel wet/dry filter).  The fish didn't make it.  It seemed fine at first - swimming, etc, after 8 hours, but after about 24 hours it started to head south.  It wouldn't eat any of the Mysis I put in the tank, and it was dead this morning (about 36 hours after arrival). <Sorry for your loss.> So, I now have two pieces of live rock in the tank, which I would like to put in my main tank.  Can I?  I don't know what killed the angel, so I don't want to infect the main tank.  What should I do?   <I would not put it into the display tank.  I would keep the rock in the QT or move it to another container with power head and a heater and allow it to go fallow (without fish) for at least 4 weeks or even better 6-8 weeks before putting in into your display.> Also, is there anything I could have done better for the angel? <In the future, it would be better to have the QT tank set up and running for at least a week or more before any fish are placed.>    Thanks! Brian <Welcome! -Mich>

Refugiums, Lighting, & Frags, Oh My! - 03/06/07 I have read many pages on WWM and have found a great deal of info. <<Excellent to know>> Thank you. <<And thanks to you for "using" the site>> The information shared has enabled me to have propagated my first mushrooms and xenia in a ten-gallon tank for trading with the LFS. <<Cool>> I am also starting propagating to place specimens into our larger tank coming soon- a 40-gallon with a 30-gallon refugium, 7-gallon sump. <<Neat...and interesting you have opted for a larger refugium versus the sump.  Most hobbyists go the other (and maybe misguided?) route>> I plan on using all man-made live rock, and have some pieces curing. <<Mmm, speaking from experience here...I recommend you "don't" do this.  Use a couple "specialty" pieces for caves/ledges if you wish, but do keep the bulk of the rock as "natural" live rock.  Regardless how "real" the man-made rock appears, it falls well short of the real thing in all other aspects.  Even when composed of some aragonite material, the man-made rock will not have the buffering capacity nor contribute bio-mineral/earth elements to the tank like natural live rock.  Obviously the man-made rock will contribute NO BIOTA at all to the system...yes; it will populate to some extent...but will never come close to the real thing.  And maybe the biggest consideration here for me...it has been my experience that the first thing to colonize the man-made rock are species of nuisance alga.  It is anecdotal proof for sure, but it seems to me the cementous surface is prime habitat for nuisance alga.  Sooo, don't be swayed by the seeming value in man-made rock...tis false economy in my opinion>> The 40 is in-wall, and the 30 will be less noticeable for frags/refugium in another room. <<Ah, I see>> I have a couple questions if you can respond or direct me to the answers I would be much obliged. <<Fire away>> I have read about refugiums with 24-hour lighting housing Caulerpa utilizing lighting reverse to the show tank (on when the main tank is off). <<Mmm, a contradiction here.  24-hour refugium lighting would indicate the lighting is on all the time...regardless of when the tank lighting is on (and is best when housing Caulerpa species of macro-algae to preclude a sexual event...in my opinion).  I think what you mean is "RDP" or "Reverse Daylight Photoperiod">> The intent of reverse lighting is to eliminate ups and downs in oxygen, thus causing other water quality issues that I don't claim to be able to explain, but seem to understand with fair accuracy. <<Several things going on actually as a result of the photosynthesis...with the primary benefit being pH support/stabilization>> My wife is into the idea of a reef tank, fascinated by the little creatures in our 10-gallon, but doesn't support the 'glowing closet' of reverse lighting or 24hr lighting.   <<Mmm...a dilemma then...>> So... Q: If oxygen is the main issue, can we as aquarists violate the "keep it simple" rule and simply put an air pump on a timer in the refugium when lights are off to maintain stable water conditions? <<Oxygen is not the "main" issue re a refugium.  Use of a protein skimmer will keep the water saturated with oxygen...and even vigorous water movement at the surface of the tank greatly facilitates gas exchange.  Though not the "best" method maybe...but if the lighting at night is an issue, simply run the refugium lighting in synch with the display tank lighting>> Q: If I fill the 40g and 30g with salt water, placing all the goodies <<...?>> from the 10g into the system, can I place my soft corals into the tank once the water clarity is fair? <<Though moving some rock/water from the old system to the new will likely speed cycling, I would still wait a few days and move your livestock once the water tests show it is safe to do so>> The 10g has some coralline growth, bunches of copepods dancing/sticking around, some Caulerpa and the sand is crawling with critters.  How long should I wait to place cuttings/frags into the show tank? <<Ideally?  If you have the capacity to run both systems I would let the new system sit empty/run for a month at least (the more time the better in the long run) if only to "mature" the system a bit before moving in the livestock>> The 40g will have much more appropriate lighting and I can't wait the get the extra space to frag/propagate. <<I understand your excitement...but try to not let it overshadow your reasoning>> Q:  I don't see any reason I shouldn't divide the refugium into two parts, one for a deep sand bed, the other for frags/propagation? <<Is up to you...>> Any suggestions on proportions? <<Always difficult to mix usage in a small tank...but the bigger the better for the DSB.  Perhaps adding a separate inline frag tank is in your future>> Q: Can one safely use latex paints in the same room as a running reef system? <<Has been fine in my experience, yes>> Thanks for fielding these questions if you are able. <<Quite welcome>> Coach Tom Stephan <<Regards, Eric Russell>>

Live Rock Question, Raising the Dead  3/5/07 Hello, <Hi Rusty!  Mich here.> I recently purchased a used 50-gallon aquarium (including stand, canopy, wet/dry filter, skimmer, etc, all for $100).   <What a deal!> The fish tank has been with out water for over a year.  Inside the tank is a giant mountain of live rock.  I heard rumors of live rock being brought back although I am unsure if this rock can be brought back, can it be brought back?   <Yes.  The rock will need to be cleaned and cycled more here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_2/cav2i3/Live_Rock/live_rock.htm and related links in blue.> If I introduce some new live rock with the old would it bring it back or should I just start with all new?   <Introduce some new pieces into the container you use to cure the old.  This will help seed the old with new life.> As far as I know, this person lost interest in the tank, drained it, and left the live rock to sit in the tank for over a year. <With time and patience it can be revived.> Thanks, Rusty <Welcome!  -Mich>

If I throw a rock into the ocean, can I use it in my reef? 2/14/07 Hi, my name is Lisa. <Hello Lisa. > I have a 40 gal. FOWLR and am upgrading to a 90 gal w/30 gal sump/refugium. I currently have 42 lbs of live rock, 3 ocellaris, mated pair of mandarins, a coral beauty and a niger trigger (baby). The triggers name is Bubba and he is the main reason I'm upgrading, due to his growth potential from his current 2" size, I just love that dumb fish. I am a college student currently enrolled in a Geology course which ironically enough has been teaching a lot of the same stuff I've already learned from having saltwater aquariums. <Irony? There's geology underwater, too!> I now have more questions than before about live rock and base rock and what chemical compositions are acceptable in a reef aquarium, which is what I'd like to do with the new tank. I understand that there is an entire industry built around the sales of live rock and base rock, however, as you've no doubt noticed from your forum of questions on the subject, some of us need an alternative to spending $500 on such rock. <There are some options...> I went to a local stone seller just to do research, but didn't buy anything. I discovered that many of the things that are recommended for reef aquariums such as dolomite and aragonite and limestone and slate rock are available. <Would stay away from slate... is lacking sufficient surface-area to be of much use here, except as anchor or support. There are better alternatives...> I realize these are not live rock in any sense of the word, however, combined with my current live rock, are they acceptable? <Quite.> If so, how can I judge the purity and cleanliness of such rock, and is there an industry name of types of rock that can act as good substitutes. <Tufa and lava rock are options, though usually require enough work to level the playing field in with regard to live rock. The key is in proper cleaning to ensure there are no "unknowns" in the mix. Lava rock may have the added problem of silicates, which can be a problem in itself. Limestone is a good option, though. Even cement-type rocks can eventually host life. Coquina is another base for your use. >An example would be learning in my class that lots of quartz rock comes from the ocean, but it can also contain trace metals. What about rose quartz, what elements make it the rose color and will they harm the fish. In the vast ocean these elements don't have as much impact as they would in my little captive system. I'm sorry this is such a long winded email, but I wanted you to understand that I'm not going to go out and haphazardly buy any rock I see, I've done my research and know what I'm doing to a certain extent. <Suuuure you do. ;) > I just need some advice on judging a store bought rock, the elements it contains, and what is safe. I mean, let's face it, during the life cycle of a rock, just about all of them spend some time in the ocean due to subduction and convection right? <I think the key you need to focus on here is this: *INERT* media for your sensitive organisms. Whether or not the rock could possibly be exposed to ocean water at some point in it's cycle from formation to eventual subduction is hardly a determining factor in choosing proper rock for your captive system, right? There are those that start whole systems with less rock than you have, mixed with totally dead (but inert) rockwork. The key is the lack of influence the rock has on water-quality. OR more to the point, negative effect on water conditions. Limestone and marble are two examples of stone that can actually buffer Ph.> There HAS to be a safe alternative to the jacked up prices of "live rock" yanked out of ocean reefs that can't handle the strain anymore...Thanks in advance, and I hope I didn't offend anybody...Lisa Hines <No offence taken here, Lisa. (I hope I have done nothing to offend you, either. Anything that needles you is probably said in jest.) Let me suggest some tips for your edification: Use google and search WWM and the WWW with GOOGLE using "Coquina" "Tufa" "Lava Rock" each used alternately with "reef" or "liverock". Also, consider that the *authentic* liverock takes all the guesswork out of the equation, with the extra added benefit of increasing bioload capacity as soon as introduced into the system (cured, that is). Also, for some reading, check this out: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/rkwduseaq.htm and http://www.wetwebmedia.com/baserockfaqs.htm and maybe... http://www.wetwebmedia.com/PlantedTksSubWebIndex/rkwdscapfaqs.htm and as usual, check out all the related links that you see at the top of the page. Good luck and I wish your wallet a fat and happy future! ;) -GrahamT>

How much LR/gal?   1/29/07 <Hi Candice> PS.  I was just thinking about this and this can be ignored cause' I know it's way off topic BUT if you have any idea that would be great.   <I actually keep FW/BW/SW tanks.> I'm going to start a 10 gal. marine nano tank with some shrimp and corals.  It's a normal 10 gal glass tank.  Could you guesstimate how many pounds of live rock one might need for a normally arranged marine tank (like an island with it's back to the back of the tank).  I honestly have no idea and was going to go price some stuff later and just wanted some info so I don't look dumb going in and looking completely clueless :)  I was just wondering ballpark numbers like as in  20 lbs. vs. 75 lbs. <General rule of thumb is min 1 1/2-2lbs/gal. Check Reef Central to see if you have a local reef club in your area.  Many folks have LR they're selling for cheap. LOL, right now, I watching "Dog the Bounty Hunter" & they're looking for a Candice!  Quick--hide!  ~PP>

Getting Live Rock to Canada eh!  - 1/22/07 Good morning, <Good morning to you Dave, Mich here.> Just wondering if you would know of any place that will ship live rock to Canada, preferably Fiji.  I have been on line all weekend and I am stumped, I can't find anyone.   <You might try contacting Dave Palmer at Pacific Aqua Farms.> I would like 100 lbs preferably uncured (its for a new set up).  Thanks for your time love your site. <Hope this helps and thank you for your kind words.  -Mich> Dave

Gulf of Mexico Live Rock - 1/22/07 <Hey Devin, JustinN with you today.> I have a question pertaining to non-commercially harvested live rock.   <Ok> There is a local fish store that has an arrangement with a small scale diving operation who is collecting LIVE-live rock from the Gulf of Mexico off of west Florida (they supply a few LFSs').   <Then is still commercially harvested, my friend, simply smaller scale.> They go out approximately 50 miles where the water is about 30-40 feet deep, and bring up all sorts of fantastic live rock with innumerable creatures and life attached to them.  I have one piece with a sea squirt and a dozen or so fan worms.  There are hat snails, macro algae, colony worms, sponge crabs, shrimp, small starfish etc. all over the rocks.  The rocks are kept underwater 100% of their trip from harvest to display.  They look in my tank as they did on the real ocean floor.  My wife and I spend hours looking at hundreds of creatures scurrying about. <Mmm, there is always some inevitable die-off involved in live rock, even if shipped completely submersed from ocean to store. It may be detectable as ammonia, but not necessarily. This is due to the fact that there are several species that simply will not survive in our care.> My question is are these rocks safe in general.   <Certainly, IMO> Do they / will they help with biological filtration as well as the semi-alive Fiji and Caribbean live rock?   <Semi-alive? What qualifies this statement, may I ask? As stated before, all live rock will have some die-off, and there is plenty of just as active rock from other locations, regardless of shipping method. As far as biological filtration, I see no reason this wouldn't function as typical live rock from the more common zones.> There are some undesirables like a few Aiptasia and bristle worms, but these can be found on any rock.   <Mmm, most bristle worms are a largely misunderstood detritivore, largely beneficial if not desired.> I guess I'd like your opinion on whether these "highly alive" live rocks are really great (hard to find) or tank suicide.   <Keep an eye out for unwanted predators, but this likewise would be the same for any rock. All should be fine here, with time.> I've noticed that the tank has not been cycling as fast as normal despite having 40lbs in a 29 gallon tank.  It's been 18 days and the ammonia levels are still high, and there are no fish in the tank. <This is not uncommon, my friend. A cycle typically takes a minimum of 2 weeks, and typically more along the lines of 4 to 6 weeks before the nitrogen cycle is fully established. As stated before, this is due to the die-off in the live rock, of creatures that simply won't make it in our care. The freshness of your rock may in fact exacerbate this issue, due to the fact that its had little to no cure time, in any other displays or shipping.> Thanks for all your hard work. Devin <Thanks for the kind words, Devin. Enjoy your highly uncommon live rock! -JustinN>

More live rock questions  - 12/18/06 <Hi Evan, Mich with you tonight.> I've dug around on the site and could find nothing to answer my question. I am currently working on setting up my 45 gallon tank, I've purchased and placed in 40 pounds of Caribbean Live Rock. I would like to add a few more pounds perhaps 20 or so. <OK> The Caribbean Rock was "uncured" and the 20 pounds of rock I plan to buy is "pre-cured" Fiji premium. Will I have a problem mixing "uncured" and "pre-cured" rock? <No problems.> Or will this only speed the curing time of the uncured rock? <May help.> Thanks, Evan. <You're welcome.  -Mich>

LR Wholesaler Sel.   11/26/07 Justin, would you send me Eric Rood's email with his addy, placed currently in the Trayless Query folder? Bob F. <No problem, Bob. His email is XXXX@bellsouth.net, and the body of the letter is as follows... -JustinN> <<Thanks much Justin... Hey Eric! Am in Kona presently... in Holualoa> Bob, Your old friend Eric Rood here. A friend of mine is looking for a quality live rock connection for his retail store. Any advice? I told him I'd check with you, I thought you & Peter were once working on something. Let me know. All things are good here, Tam says high and she misses you. Eric J Rood <I'd contact either Walt Smith or Dave Palmer at Pacific Aqua Farms and see what they say re becoming something of a regular customer... Otherwise, Eric Cohen at SDC has some spectacular quality, consistency in LR nowadays. Cheers, BobF>

I have the answer for those wanting a FOWLR system in Hawaii  - 10/25/06 To the crew and the intelligent people that support this site, some info people may be interested in. I have seen many questions on the site concerning Hawaii State laws.  I have been laboring over the same predicament for months almost years.  I have the answer, it takes a long time but with patience you can LEGALLY have a FOWLR (live rock being the key) in the state of Hawaii.  The laws are very strict in Hawaii, the State has good intentions but unfortunately are a bit misguided in my opinion (I even wrote my thesis on the current laws concerning the harvesting of coral for profit).  Many "amateur" reef aquarists are better read and knowledgeable on the propagation of SPS and LPS than in my opinion than those working for the State.  Yes, that may sound a bit harsh, but true.   Anyway, enough of that, It is easy to go out and collect rock and corals and throw them in your tank in Hawaii, that is true, but illegal, and if you are like me. I still obey the law.  There (without a scientific permit and appropriate facility) is NO legal way of obtaining corals of any kind (save some "black, pink, and gold corals" with the appropriate permit).  Obtaining permits in the State for other than profit is next to impossible, yes a little hypocritical, but that's the way it is.  Now, here is how you do it. THIS WILL TAKE AN IMMENSE AMOUNT OF WORK, TIME, and PATIENCE.. It is legal to collect rock above the high tide water line, without ANY (not even algae) form of life.  A rock with algae could be a $1000 fine for the first offense.  Now you can see why this will take a while.  So, Collect your rock near the shore, but above the sand (waterline) most abundant on the Northwest side of the island of Oahu (sorry only know about Oahu, other localities/counties may enforce even more strict regulations).  For water use the public access at Sand Island (at the end of Sand Island Access Rd.) has been tested with almost all Salifert kits, and is an incredible source for free! A little high on the salinity side (around 1.029, but that's better than low I guess).  We are allowed, yes legally, to collect one gallon per day of sand and coral rubble seaward of the coastline.  This is how you will get your live sand (go to Bellows AFB or Lanikai beach). Normally sand collected on the beach isn't a good idea, but it's a little different here than Atlantic City.  Get out there a bit, and it hasn't been touched.  Collect sand first, then when your DSB is establish collect coral rubble, this is the only way to get the coralline to seed your rock. Be sure to collect the sand in the water, yes this is a lot of work, so the sand will seed the rock.  Six months later you WILL have beautiful live rock, and you did it completely legal, then discard the rubble is desired.  I have verified this exact plan through the DLNR and the Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture, and I have done it!  In fact you may print my email if there are any questions concerning legal resources. Nodea717@yahoo.com Now, if you really want to push your luck, if I remember correctly Zoanthids aren't actually Corals right? Anyway, I am sure you see where I am going with this, you can capture your own inverts as well as fish.  Now go net your fish (as long as the net and arm together do not exceed three feet) and have a gorgeous, completely local FOWLR tank.  P.S. have your local fish store import anything off of the Conditionally accepted list or Restricted B list and have them sell it to you, they already have the permits (stonies and leathers are on the list but they still wont do it!) Cheers! Don Williams <Thanks much for this cogent detailed input Don. Will post/share. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock...What's Good?...What's Better? - 10/21/06 Hi Eric, <<Hey Ken>> You said that Fiji is bargain rock. <<I did, yes...doesn't mean it is "not any good"...just that there is better rock to be had>> I have been away from the hobby for many years and just getting back in. <<Ah, I see...some "re-learning" ahead of you>> It seemed to me that this was the "premium" rock that everyone was using now. <<Hmm...is not my understanding/observation.  But again, I'm not saying this is bad rock, just that I feel there are better choices from my own personal experiences and those of other hobbyists/LFS owners with whom I am acquainted>> When you say bargain, what do you mean?  Quality of what it is supposed to do, or appearance? <<Is usually the least expensive/more readily available.  Strictly speaking, I don't think rock from "Fiji" is an less "good" than rock from anywhere else, I think it is a matter of "handling" by some vendors.  I suspect some vendors buy large quantities that then sit around (under less than optimum conditions) waiting to be bought/shipped.  If you can get Fiji rock "directly" from Walt Smith I think you will be happy, otherwise I have heard very high praise of the rock available from Reefer Madness of late>> Since the stores near me in New Jersey carry Fiji, what rock do you suggest and do you know a store or online place for me to buy that has good quality and selection? <<Ah yes, as just stated.  Though if you can find a local store that can get you fresh Tonga rock I think you'll like that too.  But do try a Google search re my previous suggestions>> Would they have a "package" that would give me assorted shapes and sizes so I can make a nice aquascape? <<Mmm...the online vendors sometimes have box-lots of different sizes...but not really a "package" as such.  But in my experience, a box of rock will contains both large and small pieces (often through incidental breakage)>> Any advise you can give me would be greatly appreciated since I would be buying sight unseen if it is not local and/or it is over the internet etc. <<Understood...you can check out the chat forums re to get a broader perspective on what is "in favor" at the moment with the masses>> I also have no problem driving 100-mile distance maximum if needed. Thanks again. Regards, Ken <<Happy to assist.  EricR>>

Re: Live Rock...What's Good?...What's Better? - 10/22/06 Hi Eric, <<Hey there Ken!>> Thanks for your help. <<Is my pleasure>> I will research out and try to do this this week as everything is ready now. <<Super!>> By the way, what specific gravity should I use? <<Natural saltwater concentration...1.025/1.026>> The rock that I will be getting will be mostly cured. Thanks, Ken <<Always welcome my friend.  Eric Russell>>

Live Rock/skimmer noise - 8/1/6 Hi There, <<Hello.>> I was just wondering if you could give a newbie some advice. I have recently set up a new tank; it's a 160 litre tank with about 9 kilo of live rock in it so far (I have to buy it a bit at a time, as it's very expensive!). I have a Fluval 205 external filter and a red sea prism protein skimmer, and it is lit by a pair of Arcadia T5 bulbs, the twin tube Marine Blue Actinic variety. <<Ok.>> As yet I haven't stocked it with any fish, as I have a few concerns with the water quality. <<Best to go slowly and learn.>> At the moment I am still cycling my tank, and performing a few water changes, and it currently stands at PO4 - 0.25 ppm, NH3 - 1.3 ppm, NO2 - 3.3 ppm and NO3  - 70ppm. Now, having successfully kept tropical fresh fish in the past, I know that these are high. <<Yes.>> Does the living rock have any effect on the ammonia/nitrate/nitrite levels? <<Of course, that is one reason it is so coveted.  It contains a lot of nitrifying bacteria, <And denitrifying and habitat/space for same. RMF>and a wonderful place for more to grow.>> My tank is in my room so I have a problem with he amount of noise the skimmer is making, is there any inherent problem with switching off the skimmer at night, or will I have to just put up with it, I was planning on keeping soft coral and anemones, as well as other inverts. <<Earplugs are your best bet.>> There is no way I can move the tank. If you could help, and give your input, I would appreciate it, Many thanks, Chris <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Curing Live Rock, avoiding Bubble Algae?   7/18/06 Hey WWM crew quick query about some LR from a LFS... Its just a few pc.s about 7lbs worth but one pc had some bubble algae on it... How do I completely rid the rock of the bubble Algae before I cure it in some fresh sea water? I was thinking that a 5 gal bucket with double dose of Trace elements, a power head, and some stress-zyme to hopefully culture some good bacteria before I add it to my 55 FOWLR Does this sound good or what should I change? Thanks a lot Crew!!! <<Jacob:  If it were me, I would not intentionally buy a rock that already has bubble algae on it if you could buy another rock without it.  When I have found bubble algae on a rock, I have popped and scraped them off in a bucket of salt water.  I then rinse in another bucket and put in a separate tank to see if they come back.  Usually some will, and you can repeat the above steps until its gone.  If you already bought a rock with bubble algae on it, I suggest you cure it separate from the other rocks until you know it's bubble algae free.  Best of luck,  Roy>>

Live Rock - 05/21/2006 Hi, can you send Vanuatu Live Rock to Qatar?  No problem the DHL or FedEx. <Sorry, we don't sell anything here.  We're only in the business of exchanging information, learning, and educating.  You might try asking a wholesaler of live rock instead.  Wishing you well,  -Sabrina>

Salvaging "Old" Live Rock  - 04/16/06 Howdy, <Hi there! Scott F. with you today!> Got a question concerning live rock that's been stored for about 2 years in a Rubbermaid container. A buddy offloaded some live rock on me that he's had in his basement for 2 years in a closed container with no fish (but kept a 802 powerhead in the container for circulation). I'm concerned about putting this rock in my main FO tank. <As well you should be with anything added to your system! Good attribute to have- paranoia!> I've been trying to cycle it in a 29gal (some of it anyway, it'll fully load a 55gal to the rim) for the past 6 months, even tried a refugium on the tank with Chaetomorpha and a 50w daylight floodlight a friend recommended. Nitrates shoot thru the roof 80ppm + (with water changes it drops 20ppm. but within a few days it's back to before I did anything), also get Cyano growing like weeds. I even tried putting a clown in the tank (poor little guy) hoping that maybe with a small bioload the organisms would start to grow and take care of the nitrate (clean cycle of course). <Not a bad thought, I guess.> Can't be the water I'm using, only use R/O water (and change the filters on it as recommended). So I'm guessing it comes down to the rock itself. Should I kill off the rock (bleach and dry) and start from scratch with a small piece of good LR? Or go get a small piece of good rock and add it to the bad in hopes that it'll re-seed what this rock is missing? <Well, there are a lot of theories about phosphate/nitrate accumulation occurring within live rock, and some of them probably have validity. This is the "theory" behind the concept of "rock cooking" that you'll hear a number of hobbyists discuss on various hobby message boards. The thought is that by leaving the rock in a closed dark container for extended periods of time, you'll kill of undesirable algae (duh) and give the rock time to "leach out" trapped detritus and organics. I suppose there is some validity to this practice, although I've never subscribed to it. The fact that your rock, which has been "cooking" for years, is a possible source of organics seems to contradict this theory, however. Hmm. I suppose that you could either place this rock into a much higher flow/light environment to see what happens, or you could "nuke" it with bleach and start over with truly "dead" rock that is devoid of all life, microbial or otherwise. If it were me, I'd try to work with it in a more conventional reef tank setting first before giving up on it.> There's no odor from the rock I have, it's teaming with bristleworms and MiniStars, but I can save some of them from the sand and just dip the rock to get what Ii can out of 'em if I have to bleach. <I'd really try to avoid the bleaching, if at all possible.> Also,  the main tank has a 3 inch sand bed (sugar sized and the sump has a 5 in) could part of the problem be lack of sand turning? <I doubt it. It could be an issue of the sandbed being excessively disturbed, for that matter, or even an exhausted RO/DI cartridge (do check your source water for nitrate and phosphate before use, just to make sure. Aggressive nutrient export (protein skimming, sue of water changes and chemical filtration media, such as activated carbon or PolyFilter) can also help you salvage this rock for future use without resorting to the "nuclear" option!> If so, would trying a fresh cycle with a goby to shift the sand that's already there maybe help? that's the only other thing I could think of that might fix the problem (but afraid that if the bed is established it'll cause trouble in the layers) John <Agreed, John. Try the nutrient export approach first. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Online vendors part2 3/30/06 Thanks a bunch AdamC.  It does help.  One remaining question on this. You wrote that 'pre-cured' live rock can often times mean less life on the rock when you get it...if I cure 'uncured' or 'raw' rock myself, won't a lot/most of the life on it die off during the cure or sitting in the box?  If not, why would the life disappear when the vendors cure it? Thanks again, and for letting me know about yesterday's message.  You guys/gals are awesome!  Eric B. <<Sorry for the confusion... there is much confusion about the terms "cured/curing" vs. "cycled/cycling" and also much inconsistency in how rock is handled.  Due to complaints about smell, appearance and the work involved in handling "raw" rock, most live rock collectors have taken to "curing" rock before shipping.  This process involves hand stripping all of the sponges, macro algae, etc. from the rock and then often literally scrubbing or power-washing it before packing.  It is true that if left on the rock, much of this material would die, but at least something would be left to have a chance!  Also, the process of "curing" or more accurately "cycling" new live rock when you receive it should include aggressive water changes, attention to water quality and frequent inspection to remove dead things before they decay.  These measures ensure maximal survival of all of that life that you pay so much money for. Many vendors (online and local) will unpack live rock when the receive it and begin the cycling process for you.  While this saves you time and effort, it will come at the expense of life if your dealer is less than conscientious in how they handle the rock.  My personal preference is to receive directly transshipped "raw" rock and cure/cycle it myself.  However this is a lot of work and there is a risk of dealing with a bit of bad odor.   Hope this helps.  Best Regards. AdamC.>

Live Rock/Live Sand, Collecting Your Own - 03/14/2006 Hello, <Hi Matt.> I have been reading postings on the importance of curing live rock. Are there any methods (e.g. limiting exposure to air, container selection, collection protocols) to employ in order to avoid the need for curing the live rock; that is, if you are collecting your own? <Well, all of the above really. Some die off to be expected regardless. For minimum, I suppose you could try duplicating the ocean during transit (flow, water conditions, etc.), not cleaving organisms in two. Perhaps best to just keep moist, preventing waste material build up in the shipping water. Aside from this, are you sure collection is legal in your area?> I live close to the ocean and can make the transition from the sea to the display tank/refugium in minutes. <Would be nice, though I would still plan some wait and see time.> The water in the tank will also be natural, collected from the sea. <Not advised, see WWM re.> I would like to make the transition of Live Sand and Live Rock as seamless as possible. <Not advised for the sand either...also posted on WWM.> As I have only just finished plumbing the system, I am now ready to add water, LS, and LR to my display tank and refugium. Since it is an initial startup, do you recommend adding all of the LS and LR to the display tank and refugium all at once (125 gallon display/20 gallon refugium -- not sure how many pounds of LS/LR I will be adding yet)? <For typical start up plans, yes, best to start all at once.> Also can hermits/other sand sifters and macro algae be added immediately to the refugium at startup? <Not until a cycle is established.> My other question is this: What type of a maturation cycle should I expect knowing that all the contents within the tank have been taken directly from the sea (nothing is synthetic)? About how long (understanding approximately 1 month for most systems), if any at all, should the cycle take? <Hard to say, may experience minor or major issues. I'd expect major if you use the water and sand.> Anything I should watch out for? <Just the usual suspects.> I understand my situation is somewhat unique. One last question --Haven't seen a lot of info on critter stocking schedule/protocol. <No? All posted on WWM.> Once the tank has matured appropriately (this timeframe still questionable to me in my situation), how much can you stock for the first time (this being a local fish and invertebrate tank). I have read the rule is fish first, then invertebrates. <Hmmm...covered also. Not always the case.> The intertidal species I will be adding are pretty hardy to begin with. How long should you wait after the first stocking before adding more? <Depends how much you add at once, generally a month or so.> What should that amount be, the same as the first stock? <One - two fish at a time (first and thereafter).> I just would like to have the initial startup go as smoothly as possible.   <In this case, ditch the water/sand idea. Make your water, purchase your sand. Start all up and let the cycle work out. Stock from there.> Thanks, Matt <Hope that helps. Do check on the legality of your collections first. - Josh> Collecting Live Rock  - 03/12/2006 I hate to bug you guys with something that I am certain you have probably answered before, but I could not find it on the google search bar.  If this question is there I apologize in advance, and I would not blame you for berating me for my poor searching skills. I live in Northern California and have noticed absolutely beautiful Live rock in some of the areas of the rocky coast.  Aside from legal issues of collecting rock what could be the possible ramifications of introducing the rock to my reef system after letting it cure for awhile? I hate to be such a cheap skate and not buy the rock from a LFS, but its something I have been debating for awhile...and well...yeah...I'm a cheap skate.  Thanks everyone.  Live rock collecting in U.S. waters was banned by the government in 1997.  The ball is in your court.  James (Salty Dog)> <<This rock is unsuitable for tropical aquarium use... But very desirable for a local/coldwater system. RMF>> Regards, Clay B.

Amount of Liverock 2/15/2006 Hey. <<Good Morning Jon.>> I was wondering if you could clarify something for me.  I have read online (your site as well as others) that the "appropriate/average" amount of live rock should be about 1-1.5 lbs per gallon of water.  I was also told at a LFS that the more the better.  I understand that more live rock=more filtration, but doesn't it decrease the amount of water in the tank and therefore the amount of water per fish, coral, etc?  This undoubtedly leads to a less stable system, or does the greater amount of live rock compensate for this? Is there a point where more would be too much? <<It comes down to a matter of taste, really.  Some think 1lb or less per gallon is sufficient for proper filtration, and allows better swimming room, while others really like the 'rockscape' look, using much more rock. Remember that live rock does take up room.  I personally use ~120lbs in my 90 gallon reef tank.  Also remember that some rock is more porous than others, which means more surface area, but less weight.  Go with what looks/works best for you.  If you want my two cents, I would say 1-2 lbs per gallon is a nice compromise between rock/swimming room.>> Thanks, Jon <<Glad to help. Lisa.>>

Fish-Only Marine System - 01/24/06 Hi guys, <<Gals here too...>> Firstly I would like to say you guys have a very good website! <<Thank you>> Now for my question, I am currently planning a 5x2x2 FO set-up & my fish of choice are 2x baby Volitans lions & a tusk fish. <<Mmm...fish grow up.>> (I might even drop the tusk as I think it will grow too big for the tank, especially when I am going to have the 2 lions in there.   <<Might be fine in this size tank...will depend largely on your filtration/nutrient export mechanisms.>> I know it is a FO set-up so I am assuming I wouldn't need any LR even tho it would be beneficial. <<Extremely beneficial...>> Would this set-up with just a thin layer of coral chips or crushed coral is okay as a substrate?  Without using any LR? <<From a technical aspect, yes, this is possible.  But this type of "bare" display is dreadful, in both appearance, and for the fish, in my opinion.  I'm sure you're trying to maximize swimming room (or maybe just saving a buck?), but look at it from the fishes viewpoint.  A little live rock will not only make for a more eye-pleasing display, but will make/keep the fish more comfortable/healthy (less stress/fewer psychological disorders) than if placed in a barren glass box.  The live rock will also provide supplemental biological filtration...and you'll need all the help you can get with this trio of large (eventually) messy feeders.>> I will be running a Fluval 404 & 304 as well as a 1200lph internal filter <<Internal?  As in undergravel?>> as filtration.  Would this be okay? <<I don't think so, I would look in to the addition of a large fluidized-bed filter as well...and be sure to service those canister filters religiously.>> Cheers SHAUN <<Regards, EricR>>

Tonga live rock collection laws 1/9/06 Hello WWM Crew, This will probably strike you as a weird question, but I am trying to recall something that occurred several years (more like a decade and a half) ago and figured that your collective knowledge may be able to help. <Hmmm... if you think this is a weird question, you obviously never look at the archives!  Yowza!>     In the late 80's and early 90's, I used to order in Tonga Branch rock by the box directly from the collectors.  I seem to remember that in the early 90's, I was told that due to new laws, they would no longer be able to collect/ship the Tonga rock.  While I do not recall if the law was based in the US or international law, I do clearly remember that there was a run on Tonga rock with the price dramatically increasing in the face of the ban. <I vaguely remember this as well, and such events (or rumors of them) crop up from time to time.> Obviously, Tonga is once again widely available and I am trying to figure out what occurred.  Is it that the ban was lifted or did it relate only to specific collection/areas/types of rock?  The current Tonga is no where close to the quality of the rocks that we used to get.  Thanks. Art <I don't know the details of what happened in Tonga, but civil unrest, changing international law (CITES), conflict between locals and collectors, and a host of other factors have caused temporary (or permanent) lapses in collection from different areas.  When collection does resume, not only might the rules be different (or differently enforced), but it may be new collectors and/or a new collection area.  All of these factors will affect the quality and variety of what is collected.  Hope this helps.  AdamC.>

Bringing a box of LR from the Philippines 01-03-05 Hello Bob! <Hello Gus, Travis here with you today.> I have a friend from the Philippines who is coming to visit San Francisco. He is not a reefer but would like to bring me a box of LR from the Philippines as a gift.  Is this allowed?  I've checked with customs they said yes.  I've checked with Fish & Game twice, once they said no and the second time they said as long as it is not commercial quantity.   <I would definitely go with whatever those agencies tell you. In my opinion, as long as it is a small amount and there is no visible "critters" on the rock you should be fine.> Thanks! <Glad to help. Travis> Gus

Florida Live Rock  12/24/05 Greetings- great web site!! <Hi John and thank you for the kind words.> Very informative. <Yes very helpful to me as well, yes this resource Bob has created is truly amazing. For the record I had that opinion before I was a crewmember, haha.> I have a quick question. <No problem.> I live in Michigan but will be driving down to Florida over the holidays. <Awesome a sunny Christmas, I will be enjoying the same here in SoCal.> I will be in the Fort Meyers area and was hoping you could recommend some good places to pick up some great live rock. <I have not personally used this rock but have seen it in friends tanks, it's truly nice stuff, with tons of life, aquacultured as well: http://www.tbsaltwater.com/.> The drive is less then a day so with proper packaging, die off should be minimal. Thank you very much for your time and help. <No problem.> -John Balcazar <Adam J.>

Live Rock and Copper HELP!  11/12/2005 Crew, <Tirion> Help! :) : I know you are all busy but I have an opportunity to buy (quickly) a bin of absolutely gorgeous rock, has been cleaned and dry for 2 years. Since I am laid off and need rock, this is a great opportunity. Wondered why it was so cheap, turns out the person used copper in his reef 2 years ago and you know the drill. Is there ANY way to utilize this rock in a mixed reef system? <Yes, likely so... the copper is probably so fully insolubilized by exposure to the elements, carbonaceous rock that it will not re-enter solution> It is gorgeous and almost perfect amount I need. To my knowledge, a great deal has likely gone insoluble or could be removed by placing in a tub with carbon filtration and checking the copper levels? <Yes, a good extra precautionary measure> I would check the levels, filter heavily a few days with over a pound of media like carbon or matrix in a 40 gallon tub at 200+gph with a HOB, stop filtration for a day and check settled levels, etc. and so on. Are there any other chemicals or media I should consider?   <Not that I would use, suggest> I can pick this up (like 50 or so lbs) for less than $30 and it is prime Fiji and Tonga. Your thoughts?  Thanks in advance, the stuff won't be there long. <I would go ahead with your plans. Cheers, Bob Fenner>
Re: Live Rock and Copper HELP!  11/12/2005
Thanks! <Welcome> I am going to try and get it! If you like, I can let you know along the way any detection/issues so this might be a baseline for how to recycle copper infected live rock (clean it, store it, filter, test.. etc..) <I'd appreciate this> I plan on soaking, filtering and have decided I will use Carbon (probably minimal effect but cheap) and Poly (can see absorption and better capture)- not sure about Cupramine yet. <?> I have a means to have a chromatograph and mass spec detect whatever is in solution (ion, chel., at any concentration, better than Salifert) periodically until I am satisfied. I can be patient sometimes - NOT :). <Heeee!> Thanks so much and you all take care. BTW, the SeaClone is still producing a medium dry foam and a cup of superior near black skimmate every 3 to 4 days. :). <Real good. Bob Fenner> 
Re: Live Rock and Copper HELP!  11/12/2005
I meant CupriSorb, not Cupramine :). <Ahh!> I was not sure about the success in detecting inactive Copper from products such as Cupramine, however I am certain the mass spec can detect about anything. <Yes. BobF> 

Live Rock...How Much, What Kind? - 09/25/05 Thanks again. <<Always welcome>> How much LR would I need for bio-filtration for my 55 gal. FOWLR setup?   I've heard that the conventional formula is 1 lb. per gallon, but then I've also been told that this rule is pulled out of the air. <<Pretty much, yes.  Many factors to consider...quality of the rock, tank bio-load, ancillary filtration, etc..>> I was advised that 10 lb. would be sufficient for my setup. <<Possibly...I prefer a very open rock structure that doesn't fill/overwhelm the tank to allow room for fish to swim/grow, water to flow...>> What type of LR would you recommend? <<The best you can afford.>> How good is the Tonga and Marshall Island branch style rock? <<Some of the best.>> Could you also recommend the best place online where I can purchase LR? Thank you. <<If you're only going to purchase ten pounds or so (you'll probably find you need closer to 20 lbs.) you'll fare better getting it through your LFS.  This way you also get to hand-pick your rock.  Purchasing on-line generally requires a minimum quantity (35-45 lbs.), but if you so choose, maybe check the BB's (reefs.org, RC) to see where folks are getting good quality rock these days... Regards, EricR>>

Looking for the freshest possible Fiji live rock  9/16/05 G'day Crew...I've Googled till my fingertips bled...I've read WWM FAQs till my eyeballs dried out but am unable to answer what should be a simple question: which e-tailer can provide the absolutely freshest Fiji live rock delivered to southeast Georgia (in North America, not Asia) in order to maximize survival of the organisms ? Here are the details...I have a sterile 90 gallon refugium waiting to receive its first installment of 'critters' but can't locate a supplier willing to commit to a shipping span from sea to tank for Fiji live rock of less than "a week or so".  Can you point me towards a source or should I wait for Tom Hanks to make a sequel to "Castaway" Thanks again for the great resource at WWM. John <You have pretty much already answered your own question.  Purchasing live rock online and having it shipped is always going to result in a certain amount of die off that you will have to slightly cure in your tank.  I have yet to come across an e-tailer that is willing to commit to anything less then what you are finding.  Unfortunately this is the current state of purchasing live rock via the internet.  Good luck!  ~Heather aka LinearChaos>

Where to buy live rock in Hawaii? I'm starting up a 55 gallon tank.  I currently have about 25 lbs of dry base rock (which is becoming quite colorful and I'm questioning if it is still alive). <What is life?>   I would like to obtain live rock, but it appears to be impossible in Hawaii.  I've tried Coral Fish.  They said that they weren't sure whether or not they will be carrying it any longer.  One of the clerks there told me to "go get it from the ocean, cause that's what they do". <I doubt this... Please talk with Randy Fernley (owner there), mention my name if you'd like...> Luckily I know this is illegal (wouldn't that have made a great weekend out with the kids...in jail!).  I assume that he meant that HE does this and not the store.  I've also tried all the places that Coral Fish mentioned as possibilities.  None the less, I can't seem to find anyone who sells it. <There may actually not be any... backward (IMO of course) laws there> Is it possible to have a "reef" tank without live rock? <Mmm, practically? No... there are many definitions of "reefs", but all require a ready mix of infauna that are most available through LR use> Can the corals adhere themselves to the base rock? <...! You have live corals... in Hawai'i... this IS illegal as well as far as I'm aware> We had originally planned on a fish only tank, but we are hoping that we could do some sort of reef with low light corals as well.  We plan to join the local aquarium society at their next meeting in July. <Good idea> I know they have frag sales, so if you aren't able to do the reef without live rock....how do they do it? <I'd ask them> And is there a way to create live rock by seeding my base rock? <Yes... but with what?> I've only heard about instances where the live rock in the tank spread the algae and such to the base rock. Thanks a bunch!!! Katrina <I'd keep looking about... maybe call one of the public aquariums re... Are you on O'ahu? Try the Waikiki (J. Charles Delbeek there)... there have been companies "culturing" LR in the 50th State... don't know if they're extant. Bob Fenner>
Re: Where to buy live rock in Hawaii?
I don't have live coral, but the people in the aquarium society must as they have monthly coral frag auctions.  I was just curious if I got some from them, could I adhere it to my base rock and it still live? <Yes... not hard to do> I live on Oahu and belong to the Waikiki Aquarium (we get our saltwater from them), but they told us that the live rock is illegal. <It is as far as I am aware... to be clear, there have been at least two companies in recent years that were "making" LR... on O'ahu... am sure some of the folks in the club will know more re>   This was very confusing to me as Coral Fish used to sell it.  They started having problems with their invert. tank (I guess where they kept their LR) and they said they aren't sure they are going to carry it anymore.   I understand that there are different rules when you have a commercial license, but it seems that someone must have it available on the island.....how else are they keeping reef aquariums? <Mmm, I don't know re this/their situation, perhaps this rock was from the culturists that were in business there. I do know Randy Fernley, the owner/mgr. of Coral Fish Hawaii, to be honest and competent. He would not break the law knowingly... If you look down at the Waikiki, you'll see he has sponsored an exhibit/tank there> Thanks for the help, Katrina <Oh, one other person to contact, Bill Stockley of Stockley's Aquarium on the Big Island, Kona... he has been in the service and retail side there for a few decades, and will likely be well-versed in what folks can/can't have, do. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Questions (5/15/05) Hey guys!  <Hi! Steve Allen with you tonight.> Ok I feel like I should change my email address so you don't know that I am asking so many questions. I said recently that I am planning on adding live rock to a tank that is empty of fish except for a fire shrimp while I am waiting for ich to die off. Anyway, I have never had live rock and was reading on your site about curing it. If I buy rock that is not already cured, can I do this in my display tank?  <Not with any animals in there--too much risk of a dangerous ammonia spike.>  Do I need to take the shrimp out?  <Either that or cure the rock elsewhere. A Rubbermaid tub in the garage with a powerhead and a heater will work fine. Not too expensive and no stink in the house. I cured mine in the summer, so I didn't even need the heater.>  When I buy it, is there anyway to know by looking at the rock if it is cured or not?  <Smell>  Or is it only by smell and ammonia levels in water?  <Uncured rock smells bad; fully cured rock smells "good" or not at all.>  I found a place that sells live rock for $5.99 (not sure from where).  <Ask, it's nice to know.>  It is in container with good water movement and large protein skimmer.  <Sounds good. I bought quite a bit of mine that way not wanting to cure it. Worked great.>  Another place sells it for $2.99 (Fiji). This rock seemed to have more stuff growing on it, but seemed to be in tank with less water movement and not sure if it's being skimmed.  <I'd be a bit concerned about this low of a price from a store rather than on line. The reason cured LR costs more is that the LFS adds the price of the curing (and a bit more profit) to the price.>  Does the price/description sound like $5.99 is cured, $2.99 is not?  <To me, yes.>  Seems a little obvious, but you know what they say about when you "assume."  <Been there, done that.>  I guess I could just ask, but I don't trust the LFS anymore even though they SOMETIMES give good advice.  <Giving bad advice through ignorance is not the same as lying.>  Sorry to bug you with this lame question, <Not lame at all.> I just don't want to screw up my tank or the live rock. Thanks again, Mark  <I really loved the Lalo Tongan LR I got from Drs. Foster and Smith. It needed to be cured for 3 weeks. (Any LR that is shipped needs some curing.) I was truly astonished and pleased at the variety of interesting animal and plant life that grew off of it. Here's the link for your consideration: http://www.liveaquaria.com/product/prod_Display.cfm?pCatId=876

135G FOWLR follow-up, cutting glass, overflows, LR over the Net, plumbing and WWM pix Thank you for the reply Bob, I have just a few more questions and then I should be good at least until I get this thing set up.  I talked to a bunch of glass shops in the area, and they all said they would drill the sides, but no one will touch the tempered bottom (can't say I blame em)  With that, they also told me they cannot guarantee the sides will not break while drilling, but they will do it.  That worries me.  If it would happen to anyone, it would happen to me (I know Murphy very well)  So that leads me to overflow boxes, which also worry me. <I'm more worried about the latter than the former in terms of potential for trouble> But then I stumbled onto Lifereef.com, telling me that he hasn't had one malfunction in fifteen years. <Wow! Well, maybe "he" hasn't... but how about their customers?> I value your opinion very much and was wondering which route would you take?   <In almost all scenarios to have the tank pre-drilled if possible before assembly, or drilled after...> Actually, in your experience, are these custom glass places known for busting even annealed walls, or are they just covering there butts? <Methinks the latter> Secondly, I was planning on Caribbean rock for Dr. F&S, and then I found a listing on eBay, Item number: 4381101282, can you please take a look and tell me if this stuff is any good?   <Mmm, did so... out of Ft. Lauderdale...> I emailed them and asked about size pieces and they said to just let em know what I'm looking for.  Too good to be true? <... do you want Caribbean, Florida rock? The South Pacific sources are better for general purposes... cheaper per volume, function> Finally, please don't laugh, but in your last reply, you mentioned nitrate bottle necking.  I don't understand what that means.  Can you please explain it to me?  Thank you. <Sure... by "driving" the forward reaction/s of nitrification... lots of aerobic space, oxygenated water, water flow... nitrate tends to accumulate in high/er concentrations... the means, mechanisms for nitrate conversion into other matter are impeded... and hence "bottle necking" (backing up in the reaction series) occurs> P.S.  I would like to send a couple of pics of my DIY wet/dry, but I don't know what you mean when you talk about file size. <Kilobytes, megabytes... we prefer a few hundred Kbytes size maximum... jpegs, bmps preferably>   Oh yeah, that reminds me, if I have only one 8" baffle right after the bio ball chamber, will the other side of the baffle remain at a 8" depth, even though the bulkhead for the pump is only about 2" high?  Thanks again, I love you guys.               Mike <If your water flow is not too fast and I understand what you mean here, yes. Bob Fenner>

Gratitude - and Who's Got Great Rock! Hello Crew, <<Hello Devin, Marina today.>> I am writing this email to which you do not have to respond to, as an email of gratitude, and advice. <<Whoops.. I guess I just responded, didn't I?>> I just wanted to say thank you to all of the emails you have answered of mine, and the advice you have given. <<I think I can speak on behalf of those who have answered your previous queries (I only edit/post them), and say that you are quite welcome, and collectively we are happy to be of help.>> Also, I have noticed many FAQs on where to buy good LR. Well, Walt Smith International is selling very porous Fiji live rock teeming with life for only $2.25 a pound on EBay. <<Walt is a good friend of Bob's, I've visited one facility in L.A. - 'twas most fun (even for one who is no longer working the trade or keeping any fish). This is good to know!>> Once again thank you for all the excellent work you have put into this fabulous website, and congratulations on a great success.  Sincerely, Devin O'Dea <<Again, most welcome, and we all do appreciate the note. Marina>>

Live rock sources? 4/12/05 Thanks. Do you have an opinion on places to get live rock? I was interested in a variety of places (Caribbean, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Tonga) mixed together.  <If your local retailer can't help, do try www.premiumaquatics.com, www.inlandaquatics.com, www.aquatictechnology.com and www.saltycritter.com. > A place called Aquacon on line sounded interesting with a lot of variety. I'm ok with partially curing it in the tank. If you're OK with promoting a place or two, I'd love to hear it. If not, I understand. Thanks again.  <Aquacon has received quite a few negative reviews over the years. You probably won't have a problem with them if all you order is rock, but the places above have much better reps. No matter where you get your rock from, you will have some amount of cycling in your tank, even if it is sold as "fully cured". Best Regards. AdamC.>

Live Rock Versus..?   I'm about to order live rock for a new setup (54 gallon). I will put the rock right into the tank since there aren't any fish yet. I can buy a 45 lb. box of pre-cured Fiji from FFExpress with a delivered price of about $165. I can also buy 45 lbs. of cured Fiji from Premium Aquatics with a delivered price of about $200. I'm not that concerned about the cost as much as the potential bad smell, cleaning the rock, and amount of water changes necessary. Is there a better way to go in your opinion?  <Well I do know that Premium Aquatics does have some very nice rock, and of course it's cheaper to go with the pre-cured. I've cured some Lalo rock and I really didn't smell much. I don't think it is necessary to clean the rock as you might be removing some organisms that would come back. I used a skimmer and didn't change the water till the curing process was done. If I were to do it again I'd change 50% of the water weekly.  James (Salty Dog)> 

How much live rock in a tiny tank I have a 12 gallon nano cube. My question is how much live rock is too much? <Mmm, functionally? About a pound or two per actual gallon... maybe ten to twenty pounds... Aesthetically? About as much as you'd like... LR is not a "consistent" product... some is much more dense than others, more "three dimensional"... more important to have some than be overly concerned with how much. Bob Fenner>

Live rock information Hey Bob! Arnold here again.<Hi Arnold, MacL in for Bob today.>  After those tons of research, reading.. still many questions here. <I've been doing this for too many years to admit and I still have multiple questions.> Days ago I came to that place where I thought I can find those stuffs would I need for my future salt water tank, bit satisfied that I found maybe few of them. Its the place where I can have my tank drilled for the over flow. As I looked around all of the stores who sell the LRs have one thing in common, they held their LRs on concrete tub below the ground and all of their display tanks drains down that tub then return to tanks, sort of a huge refugium(?) but I noticed all of them didn't apply any form of lighting for these rocks! and I thought that's why they looked different then the ones I have seen at the net whose encrusted with that pink, purple thing coralline algae?<Yes> ) here it's pretty obvious that they are pale to dark grey rocks. <They are still alive with bacteria they just don't have the algae and other things on them> I didn't dare to take a hand to have a closer look, the only thing the guy said that those rocks are sitting for such a period and it's already conditioned, what was that word?!<I think you mean cured> Question: is there a hope for these rocks; do life still exist on them and soon flourish under good curing as I buy them? <Yes they are alive and yes there is still stuff on them that will grow and flourish when in the lights. Also you can get some other live rock that has been cured under lights and has multiple stuff growing on it that will spread to this kind of rock. Most people would consider that "base rock". Please help..-Arnold Borja

Don't Use "Mystery Rock"  (Pt.3)                                                          Ok Scott, I have the soaking rinsing bleaching and dechlorinating details but how much dechlorinator do I use? <I'd double the dosage suggested by the manufacturer> What it says on the bottle for water content, is this going to do the rock as well or should I use extra? <As above> Will the bleach or residue cause any problems in tank? <If it remains in significant quantities, yes. Thoroughly dechlor and rinse this rock prior to using it, as previously discussed> I know the rock is dead coral rock sediment I can see that so the make up isn't what's bothering me but I suppose pesticide is the main worry. <Yep. That is my big concern here> Is there anything I can do to remove the possibility of these? <Well, soaking in freshwater with a filter containing activated carbon or Poly Filter could help, but your main ally will be time. Residual toxic materials could leach out over time, so the best you could do would be to give the aforementioned preparation procedures plenty of time> Could mail order I suppose but wouldn't the freight be expensive! <Well, it depends where your obtaining it from, but many e-tailers offer good shipping rates on live rock. Worth checking out, I suppose.> Cheaper to replace four damsels and restart tank me thinks! Thanks again. <You're welcome. I'm sure that you'll do what's right! Good luck! Regards, Scott F>

- Mail Order Live Rock - I'm getting ready to set up a 90g FOWLR tank and I'm considering purchasing mail order live rock.  I would like 90lbs-100lbs and ordering it would save me a lot of money. <Would it? Shipping that much rock won't be cheap.> I've kind of narrowed it down to three (Walt Smith LR, Drsfostersmith.com LR, or MarineDepotLive LR).  <I think for the most part these would all be similar - Drs Foster & Smith don't have their own live rock collection stations so they would be purchasing their rock from Walt Smith or similar supplier.> Could you please give me a suggestion on these or another if you know of one better. <For the most part, just shop for the best price, and consider what it's going to cost to ship it.> Thanks, Chris <Cheers, J -- >

-Best deal on live rock: Harvest it yourself!- Hi , my name is Mario and I have a question cause I don't know what to do. <An excellent excuse for having a question!> My tank 55g is cycled and I live next to the ocean , can I take live rock directly from the sea without taking it out of the water to my tank without curing it first , just removing unwanted animals and plants? I ask and is legal as long as I don't take any corals . <Since you reference corals, I'll assume you live next to a tropical ocean, as opposed to the north Atlantic or similar temperate waters. This question could be easily answered if you understood exactly what we mean by "cured". Basically, cured live rock has no dead critters on it, and thus will not create ammonia and nitrite spikes. If you keep this rock submerged the entire time, you will come close to having no loss, but it is recommended that you quarantine it to screen for possible predators. -Kevin>

Making live rock 6/7/04 Hey again, I have a question concerning live rock I have my 30 gallon saltwater tank ,and I have to put like 25 lbs live rock in it right? <depends on how much if any other filtration you have... but yes, 1 to 2 pounds per gallon is the rule> My question is aragonite rock + concrete mix to make LR safe? <can be made to be safe, but is inferior in so many ways . See our archives or "Reef Invertebrates" book for comprehensive details on why> I do not really wanna spend $150.00 for Fiji rock. Thanks for your help, Jeffery <I can empathize with your desire to save... but this is not a cheap hobby. And if it pains you to invest $150 in the foundation of your system's health/filtration... then its really gonna hurt when you buy a good skimmer and quality lights ;) Anthony

Live Rock Selection Dear RYAN, <Hello Xim, how is paradise?> thanks a million for the help. <Anytime my friend> yes, I have access to live rocks, but I would like to know what actually live rocks, the one with coralline algae, or the rocks found in deep water, with lot of slimy living things, or the rocks in the shallow with colour but no slimy, I mean no small sponges, tube worms. <I would choose the rocks with coralline, and a few others for diversity.> coz if there's a lot of living things in the rock, it will all die and pollute the water coz there will be no nitrifying bacteria present before the cycle, and when do I have to put the live rocks and all together or one by one. <Yes, it will.  But what survives will be very strong and helpful in your filtration.  After you put in the live rocks, ammonia will jump up, and you will go through a "cycling" period.  Give it a few weeks, with lots of water changes.  After you're done, I think you'll have a great system to work with.  Jeez, you've got all of us drooling over the idea of walking the beach for live rock!  These FAQs may assist you http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm> thanks and regards Xim

Newbie wants to stock tank... 2/22/04 Thank you for your prompt response.  Isn't there another way to add the live rock. It is all very expensive and I thought I read I could add a little at a time to keep costs down (I did read that somewhere but I cannot remember where.  Cured of course?  Not true? <You can add rock as you go, but do be sure that it is very well cured.  Do not trust your retailer's word that it is cured, and certainly don't trust any rock that has been shipped directly to you, even if labeled as "pre cured".> I have only 43 lbs. so far and obviously that is not enough.  But WOWEE I hope the husband doesn't find all the receipts :) <It does get expensive!  Don't get sucked into the old rule of 1.5-2lb per gallon, though.  With good quality open structured rock, as little as 3/4-1 lb of rock per gal. is often plenty.  Visual appeal becomes the guiding factor after that.> Any kind of fish you think work well for 75 gallon tanks that I did not mention.  I don't want anything venomous or vicious.   <Gobies, blennies, dwarf and pygmy angels and many smaller wrasses come to mind.  Please do research all specific choices.  Most of the info you could ever want is right here at WWM.  Good luck.  Adam>

Live Rock - 12/15/03 I am in the process of purchasing LR for my 72g bowfront tank. <Fun> I've looked at many pictures and have been looking into the many different varieties there are. <Tell me about it> I'm not looking to create a biotopic display, but simply to make my tank look very nice while still having live rock functioning as filtration along w/my 5'' DSB. <Very good> The rocks that have the most color and usefulness seem to be Fiji, Tonga, Marshall, and Kaelini. <agreed> There are more, but the pictures that I seen having the best aquascaping, lack describing/labeling the types of rocks used. <Well, not really required in most cases. Rock will become encrusted with various forms of "life" overtime> Would you be able to give me some direction, from your experience, as to what is a either a good mix or single type of rock to use throughout the tank? <I really enjoy the Fiji and Tonga but the Marshall is also very nice. I go for price or biotope in most cases. It is all pretty good if you ask me.>  I want to have about 90 lbs total. <A good amount> I liked the idea of a Lagoon type layout in 'CMA', provided there is enough flow. <Make it so> Inhabitants are Yellow tang, Randall's goby, 3 Green Chromis, Fridmani Pseudochromis, Oce. clown, 2 scarlet shrimp, Tiger pistol, assorted snails. <Be sure to research the fish and inhabitants (sounds like you have) before actually placing them and don't forget the value of quarantine!! ~Paul> Thank you for your help and keep up the good work, this site is invaluable to a beginner like me. -Brian   

Caribbean Live Rock - 11/24/03 Hello to all, Just a quick question.  When the ban on import of Fiji rock was established, several "new" or unadvertised types appeared on some internet sites. <Just a quick note, the ban has been lifted and LiveAquaria is now offering Fiji Live Rock again>  One such live rock is the Caribbean Live Rock at Live Aquaria. It is much less expensive. <Yeah. Usually to do with quantity, availability/demand, and shipping prices. The Caribbean rock usually come either aquacultured from Florida or something to that affect. Doesn't cost as much to ship from places very near or within the United States. There are sometime process oriented differences such as holding, cleaning, curing of said live rock. Also, sometime the broker or middleman need their cut as well. So it can depend on the process, shipping, and brokerage of the rock that may affect the price> Is it a good alternative? <I think so. Different organisms are obviously found on it, but is a very functional alternative. Now will you do a Caribbean biotope??? I like to keep my tanks in biotopic form.> What are the pros and cons? At $1.60 per pound it is attractive, but is it to good to be true? <I can't personally think of any reason to not purchase the rock. Check here for more information: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm not just the articles but also the blue links to the FAQs as well. In any event, cost is a factor and I'm sure with a proper curing method, you will be happy with this rock choice. Again, if you want Fiji live rock, then by all means go for it as it is now readily available again. See here: http://www.liveaquaria.com/ ~Paul> Thanks Tracy

Fiji Live Rock Hello all, <Hi Todd> I just have a question about the different types of LR. I found on one of your FAQ that Fiji Live rock has been banned due to CITES non-compliance. <Yes, very likely a short term affair> I was planning on ordering LR this week but now am not sure if I should wait.  A place close to me has good prices on Tonga live rock. (I do not believe it is branch).  Since I really do not know much about the Tonga LR I wanted to get your suggestion. <This is a very nice product. Attractive and functional> I am setting up a 125 FOWLR and have all of the plumbing done and it is currently just running with saltwater.  I have run the tank for a couple of days and was about to order when I found out about the problem. According to Bob's article "The Best Live Rock: From Fiji" on your site the best LR comes from Fiji.   <Yes... "best" as defined by a mix of factors, especially cost per functionality> My question is do you think that it is better to wait if it is only a couple of weeks in order to get Fiji LR?  Is Tonga LR a good substitute or is there something different that you would suggest?  Do you have any new information on the ban? <The Tonga is fine... if you're at all in a hurry, I would use this> Thanks for all your knowledge and suggestions. Todd <You are welcome. Bob Fenner>

- Going Grunge - In a statement by Bob Fenner on the page FAQs on Tank Troubleshooting 1 "Hard to state what the root cause is/was of the trouble. I would get some "real" live rock, I don't trust the "grunge."  Why don't you trust the grunge and where do I find safe Live rock that is not going to have little enemies on it. <It's hard to know for sure, because I'm not Bob... I didn't write those words. My guess would be that one has no guarantees what the origins/composition of GARF Grunge is... supposed to be mostly smashed up live rock, but again... no one really knows but the Headlee's. More importantly, GARF Grunge is supposed to be more of a substrate, than a substitute for live rock. But back to the live rock issue, for the most part, well cured live rock has had most of the bad critters identified and removed. It is a rare occurrence that something like a "little enemy" shows up.> I don't want and I am not experienced enough to detect them. <Then re-cure the rock in a separate container... would likely do the trick.> Bruce <Cheers, J -- >

Hoorahs for Live Rock Crew:  I just thought I'd strongly second Jason's answer to Bruce, who is worried about pesky critters in live rock. I was very fearful of this before I started my tanks last year. Then I lucked out and found WWM. Scott F convinced me not to worry about properly cured and inspected live rock. I have since purchased 350 lbs of rock from 2 LFS in the Salt Lake Area and LiveAquaria.com. No nasties at all, just all kinds of interesting and useful critter.  Thanks to the entire crew for all your help over the past year! I read the FAQs and learn something every day.  Steve  <Thanks for your comments, Steve. Will post on the dailies and elsewhere to make sure all get a chance to see.  Cheers, J -- > 

Base Rock Love your site the marine scene is all new to me. I have been looking at some of your FAQs and there is sooo much information - not complaining :). I say this because I don't know if I'm asking a question you have already answered before. I currently own a 55 gal tank and I'm interested in live rock - but don't have a trust fund.<I would order live rock from online e-tailers...the price is much cheaper than your LFS price will be..3 dollars opposed to 6 dollars> I have read that you can use dry base rock and seed it with live rock.<you can do this> There are several products made by CaribSea one called reef rock, one called reef stones, one called honey comb base rock and another called reef bones. What I like to know is are any of these any good for seeding? <To be honest with you I would just look around for people who are breaking down their reef aquariums-and many times they sell the Live rock for relatively cheap prices. Also I am not familiar with those CaribSea products.. you can just purchase regular base rock and seed it with the live rock.>If so is one better than the other. Also how long would it take to seed rock - time I have plenty.<It would take a while.. months...Good luck, IanB>

OceanLife Int'l Reference In reading one of your FAQs, I came upon a reference to OceanLife Int'l $2/lb Marshall Island live rock and their collection process.  I had come across their website and was thinking about chancing a small order to see what the quality was like.  Do you all have any experience with this seller?  Thanks, ---Scott <A great place to "plug" the BB's in our interest. Ours: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/, and ReefCentral, reefs.org and others is where I encourage you to seek out a broad/er range of experience. 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> Live Rock selection - 9/9/03 Hi guys and thanks for reading my questions! <Our job>  I'm a first-time wet web user and a first-time marine aquarist which adds up to a ton of questions. <understood> I'm a college student who has always dreamed of having a marine tank, but being a college student I don't have a lot of money. <Nor do I>  However, I do have a lot of hopes and aspirations that I'm eager to fulfill for my tank.  Now, I've read a lot of online material and a book or two, and one thing I'm still confused about is the whole live rock issue.<A good plan is important>  By reading some of your responses to other questions I see that you suggest FFExpress, but on the forums I see Gulf View suggested a lot. <Depends on the responder>  The types of rock I'm considering are FFExpress's Lalo or Fiji rock <A nice choice>, ETropicals (FFExpress's affiliate) Caribbean rock, <Equally nice. and gulf view's coralline covered rock. <supposed to be excellent as well> I know this is a very broad question, but what are the positives and negatives of each? <Money, user preference depending on biotopic setup, shipping process, level of curing process, etc...>  With my low budget, I like the low cost of the Caribbean rock (about 100 dollars including shipping for 40 pounds), <great although I have seen this price for lots of live rock from all sorts outlets. Check around.> but is this cheaper for a reason (lower quality)? <Not necessarily. Lots of reasons for cheaper likely small price for a big buy. In other words, the wholesaler probably offered a middleman a price break for buying large quantities or something to that effect. The savings get passed on to you> Lastly, the tank is in my dorm room and so I will need to cure the rock in the tank itself (not a lot of room for other tanks to cure in) but the tank is empty except for sand, water, and equipment.  Is this a good or bad idea and is my whole dorm gonna stink because of my curing? <Possible. I would use carbon while cycling, keep lights off, use a heater and do frequent partial water changes (maybe 25-40%) and keep any other filtration or skimming running (if you use it)> (I've read bad things...)  <Oh yeah> Sorry that this is so long but thank you for your time!! <A pleasure, -Paul> A very inexperienced aquarist, James

-Rock types for aquaculture- hey guys, a friend and myself were driving and seen in the building of a housing addition some rock that appears to be limestone. is this safe for aquaculturing? <If it is truly limestone, it would be great> also could you give me a list on rock that is NOT safe to use for this purpose? <Well, since there's far too many rocks to list, here's a little blurb Bob wrote about using different rock types: 'Be extremely leery of putting just anything you've picked up in your system, including 'treasures' from seashore excursions, or freshwater decorations. Everything that goes in must either be chemically inert (non-reactive) or, if soluble, benefit the water chemistry. Be suspicious of even (gulp) what you see offered at XYZ Fish Store; some petrified woods, volcanic and other "rocks" are not safe for marine use.' That said you'll want to use calcium based material like limestone or properly cured "Aragocrete" type cement rocks. I hope this helps! -Kevin> than for any help that you can give.                                                                   Sam

Crabs! And Righteous Live Rock >I have a very small brain coral that came with one of the rocks.. >>COOL!!!  Sounds like excellent live rock.  Please share where purchased for our other readers. >I got my rocks from a local shop in Titusville Florida called Aqua Mart.  About every two weeks he drives all day to key west and back.. bringing with him around 600lbs of Atlantic Aqua-Cultured live rock. I have been very happy with the life forms on it. More can be seen at  http://www.johnslife.com >>Excellent!  And many thanks. >Thanks for the information regarding the crabs.. I guess I need to get started on maybe a 10g refugium.. I just started into the hobby a month ago so it has put a considerable dent in my wallet thus far. >>Indeed. >Need to build a hood and get a VHO setup next.. then maybe the refugium. Regards!  John >>Do enjoy your new endeavor, John.  Marina

Live Rock Types Quick Question: I have recently seen two types of "premium" live rock offered online at premium prices. These are Lalo and Kaelini. Do these types of rocks offer any special advantages? Is it a good idea to mix different Pacific-origin live rock in the same tank to promote a variety of life?  Thanks, Steve Allen <Not a bad idea to mix different types of LR. May have different organisms differentially suited to captive conditions. Bob Fenner>

Blending live rock Hi Guys, <Hi Andrew, Don here today> I am a UK based person who is putting together a 350 litre marine tank which will eventually contain a collection of small fish, shrimps, crabs and stars. It will be filtered by an Aqua C Remora Pro Mag 3, an external Eheim canister, and a good collection of live rock. I propose to use coral sand, with a combination of ocean and live rock. <Very good> I have found a supplier of Fiji live rock, who have an excellent reputation for curing their rock. I have also found a different supplier for cured Caribbean live rock. My first question is whether it is best to use only one type of live rock in the tank, or to "blend" multiple types in order to create greater bio-diversity? <I prefer the Fiji as it is very porous and relatively light> I want the live rock to seed the ocean rock. What would be a sensible percentage split of ocean to live rock on order to achieve this (without having to wait years)? Is the best approach to seeding to put all the live rock at the bottom of the stack so that the organism climb up the ocean rock to move towards the light? Or is it better to equally distribute / interleave ocean and live rock throughout the tank? <You are referring to rock taken directly from the ocean? I would not recommend this as you don't know what type of disease or undesirable pests will come in as well. You might look for something called 'base rock' that has been out of the water for some time to allow these things to die off. If you do decide to go the route you suggest, then I would put the ocean/base rock on the bottom as a 'filler' and build on it. The dead rock will become live in a matter of weeks/months if you keep your water quality high.> How many kg.s of rock should a 350 litre tank reasonably contain? <Somewhere around 40-50 kg.s> The cured live rock is about 50% more expensive than un-cured. Given that I am starting from scratch, I could simple buy a large quantity of uncured live rock, put it all into the tank, and cycle it over a good 4 to 8 weeks, before introducing any live stock. Would such a large amount of uncured rock in an uncycled tank be unwise (massive ammonia spike effectively killing the live rock)? Alternatively, given that the tank is ultimately costing several thousand pounds to put together, is it short sighted to use anything other than the best cured rock? <All rock will suffer some die off and become uncured to a certain amount just taking it out of the water at a LFS and on the short drive home. If you are getting the rock mail order and it is going to be out of the water for a day or two, then you are starting with uncured rock. With this in mind, I would use the uncured rock and cure it. Then add small amounts of the cured rock if you like (If you can get it to the tank in a reasonable time span) to introduce some more diversity. Yes the tank will cycle, to combat this, use large, frequent water changes. You will need to have large amounts of aged, aerated water on hand (using large, food grade trash cans to contain) as you will be doing 100-200 liter water changes every day, or every other day initially. BTW, I would cure the rock in a bare bottom tank and maybe bait small amounts of food to see if any unwanted hitchhikers come in with the rock. Remove the food after 15-20 minutes.> Finally a question about chemical filtration. I don't intend to use a RO unit, opting for well prepared tap water instead. Would it be sensible to use a small amount of activated carbon in the tank to compensate? Or alternatively, how about using activated carbon in the "water change" container - before it is introduced to the tank? <Carbon is a good idea in either case. It has to be in an area of decent water flow to be affective. I like to use two bags of carbon in the tank and change these on alternating weeks.> If I do use carbon, should I be compensating for the loss of desirable compounds by adding supplements? <Yes, but only after testing for what you are supplementing. One should never add supplements 'blindly'. Beside testing for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate, I would recommend calcium, alkalinity, magnesium, phosphate and silicate as you are using tap water.> As always, thank you very much for your help. <No problem, and congrats on making sound decisions and doing the research, Don> Andrew

Cooler live Rock Hi,    I'm planning a temperate tank ( 65 - 67 degrees ) and I would like to have some live rock in there. Can I use the live rock I currently have in my other reef tanks, or will this temperature kill the rock. Is there a temperate type of live rock? Any ideas on how to get it? <The living organisms that are on the rock from your reef will most likely perish with the drastic temperature change, I would check with your LFS and see if they can get any temperate LR (have never seen any before), and do check if they can get any temperate fish, inverts etc, good luck, IanB>                                                                                Thank you very much, SAL

To transship or not transship, aye, there's the rub... <Hi Cecilia, PF with you here tonight> Hi I need a little feedback. I would like to know if purchasing live rock from a dealer who dose transshipping is this a good way to buy rock. He sells Fiji rock that he receive from Walt Smith. <Well, that all depends. Transship rock sometimes has more life on it, but it's a crap shoot as the quality will vary between shipments. There's a big difference between rock that has sat for a week on a dock before processing and one that sits for 2 hours. So, you might get lucky and get rock that's only been moderately traumatized, or rock that's been baked. If you do decide to go this route, remember that curing LR can be an odious experience, all that dead matter can stink things up PDQ. > Thank you Cecilia

Ammonia Hello again, <Hello John> I am setting up a new 90 gallon AGA tank. After putting 90 pounds of live Fiji rock in the tank this week, the ammonia has spiked to about 5.0 ppm. I have a mature, thriving 40 Gallon tank from which I would like to transfer most of the substrate to my new refugium. Is the ammonia too high right now to safely do this and expect the bacteria to survive? I purchased a bottle of Amquel+ but have been reluctant to use it yet. <Sounds like the rock is not fully cured yet.  I'm assuming there are no fish in the tank.  Just let the rock finish curing.  For more info, do a google search on Wet Web, keyword "liverock".  James (Salty Dog)> Thanks again, John BTW - One evening as I was scanning through the message boards; I noticed that someone had asked Bob if the live rock from Foster and Smith was quality. I received 90 pounds from them this week and was very impressed with what I received. 90% of the rock was between 6 - 10 inches with several very large pieces measuring 12-16 inches. Only a few ounces of rubble in each box.

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