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FAQs about Live Rock Selection 1

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

Related FAQs: LR Selection 2, 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

Healthy live rock on an eggcrate support, Waikiki Aquarium, Oahu, Hawai'i.

Hey Bob,
I am puzzled as to the amount of different forms of live rock available on the market, I am looking to buy about 20kg to go in my aquarium and there are some real differences in price. My questions is, are there any real differences between the quality of live rock from different areas of the world, or is it just the desirable shapes that are more costly? I know that cured rock is more expensive than uncured but there still seems to be a difference in the price of good quality live rock here in the UK.
Thank you
Dennis Almond

Welcome Dennis'¦
There is for sure a good deal of variation in price, along with quality of rock hailing from different areas, even the same regions by different companies. The variation can be very important for functional, aesthetic and economic reasons'¦
            First off, regionally it is of value to have a clear idea of what sort of set up you intend, particularly if a biotope'¦ an attempt at mimicking a given area/setting/species mix is your plan. As an example, should you be interested in a tropical West Atlantic look, and/or grouping of animals, plants'¦ I strongly suggest you look to purchasing Florida LR'¦ this is a very good choice for obvious reason that it sports and supports much of the same sorts of life your livestock will get along with, be able to use'¦ As well as the fact that due to the proximity in the Caribbean, a good deal of the 'live' part of the product will likely get to you in good shape. The only 'downside' of this rock is that it is remarkably more dense than choices that come out of the South Pacific'¦ Therefore, you will need to have a bit more pounds to take up the equivalent volume in your system.
            S. Pacific choices (Fiji, Tonga'¦) span a very great range of types and qualities'¦ and you should educate yourself, or take along a friend in the know with you to sort out your options here at your stockist. I have seen some collecting businesses that do no more than 'pick up' natural rock, place it summarily in boxes'¦ and ship'¦ To the other end of the spectrum (e.g. Walt Smith's operations) that do extensive work selecting, quickly hauling, physically cleaning (hand tools and high pressure, filtered, refrigerated seawater'¦) and 'pre-curing''¦ (misting, rinsing the rock for days in special troughs open at the screened bottom to rinse out bristleworms et al.)'¦ So do be 'picky' when selecting such wild product.
            Then there's the added issue of 'type' of rock'¦ some more boulder-like, others made of accreted coral skeleton'¦ this choice is mostly a matter of personal preference and pocketbook'¦
            Do smell the rock and water it's in'¦ It should have the odour of a clean beach; whether it is 'pre-cured' or not'¦ A note re this last: all rock will need to be cured to some extent'¦ and you may be fine doing this 'cycling' in your all-new system. Do read up ahead of time and be aware of the likelihood of smell issues'¦

Collecting live rock from the Mediterranean 5/2/05 Hello, I have a thirty five gallon corner aquarium that I would like to set up as a marine tank. I would like to put in live rock and a few invertebrates along with just a couple of fish (a Mediterranean tidal pool biotope). My aquarium is in my house in the north of Italy but I spend July and August in the south by the sea. I would like to collect live rock from the sea (shallow, rocky tidal pool areas) and transport it to my aquarium (about an 11 hour drive).  <As long as it is legal to collect rock from where you will be, this sounds like a wonderful idea! When you seek out animals, beware that some tidepool inhabitants require the tides and daily exposure to air to survive/thrive and should be avoided for that reason.> I thought to prepare the aquarium a couple of months before hand by adding synthetic salt water, an aragonite and coralline substrate and a pound or two of live rock (Fiji) from the local fish store. The idea is to allow a bacterial colony to grow in the substrate and more or less stabilize the tank before my return. <This also sounds fine, but do keep in mind that the Med is temperate! The bacteria from the Fiji rock should adapt nicely, but some of the other critters may not.> I thought that if I collect the rock and keep it in a plastic garbage can with seawater then bring it home and put it directly in my tank it would minimize die off. Is this a reasonable plan? I don't have any practical experience with marine (only fresh water) but I am reading as much as I can. If rock is taken from the sea and kept constantly under water (possibly aerated?) does it still need to be cured? Thanks for your advice, Eileen  <With your short travel time, you should avoid (or greatly shorten) a cycle by keeping the rock in water. There is a wonderful Italian magazine called "Aquaplanta/Reef Art", which aside from being a beautiful an informative magazine, should also help you connect with other hobbyists. Ciao! AdamC.>

- Live Rock Preference? - Hello all! I'm looking to add more live rock to my 20gal FOWLR tank. I currently have 11 pounds of rock, and I would like to add more, maybe another 15 pound or so.  <Egads! Can you actually fit that much rock in there? I'd be cautious as you will begin to trade water volume at some point which is actually more important than the rock.>  I've narrowed down my rock choice to aquacultured Florida deco rock from www.floridaliverock.com or the ultra-premium Fiji rock from www.saltwaterfish.com, as my local stores do not carry very high-quality live rock. My question is, do you have any preference as to what kind of rock you would rather put in your tanks?  <Yes, I do... I'd go for the Fiji rock. The Florida live rock is incredibly dense and so you end up with smaller pieces at a price not all that different from rock that's been half way around the world.>  While the Fiji rock seems to have more coralline algae, the Florida rock has much more vibrant colors and more ocean life on it.  <Think in time the Fiji rock will look the same in your tank.>  However, my concern lies with the life on the Florida rock. Can I expect much of this to survive in my small tank, or would the sponges and other delicate life probably die off after a short time and foul my system?  <Some would die, some would live.>  I've got 6+ watts of power compact lighting, and I take excellent care of everything as far as maintenance is concerned. Still, though, I'm just not sure the extra life would be worth it. So, should I opt for more natural life (Florida rock) or less life but seemingly more coralline algae growth (Fiji)?  <Think you will be surprised by what shows up on the Fiji rock after two or three months.>  Sorry this e-mail is so long, but live rock isn't cheap, and I'd like to make an informed decision. Thank you, Joe S. <Cheers, J -- >

Trying to find some good Indo-Pacific or Indonesia live rock Hello,     I was wondering if anyone at wet web media has any ideas of where to get some live rock from the Indo-Pacific region or Indonesia.  I am wanting to set up an Indo-Pacific reef tank and be as close to nature as possible.  Any suggestions. Thanks, Daniel <No one ships LR from Indo. period as far as I'm aware, but I assure you that the principal source, Fiji has very similar appearance and mix of non-fish life in association with theirs. Bob Fenner>

Where to buy live rock >Hey crew, >>Hey Chris.  Marina here. >I am going to purchase about 45 pounds of live rock within the next week. Do you know if live aquaria sells quality live rock? or can you recommended a reputable site that sells good live rock. >>Personally, I don't.  But, you can also query the folks on the talk forums here http://www.wetwebfotos.com/talk (you'll have to register, but it's painless, I swear). >Currently I have a 55 gallon tank with 45 pounds live rock, I only have one skimmer and would like to know if I can remove the skimmer from my existing setup and use it while I cure my live rock in  a Rubbermaid container. would my existing setup be fine with no skimmer till the rock cures. my only other alternative is to throw the transshipped rock in my tank. Thanks a bunch, Chris >>Well, I'm going to assume that your main display has no inhabitants, so there's no reason to skim at this point.  Yes, you can throw the skimmer in the Rubbermaid.  You'll probably need to do several water changes as well.  Good luck!  Marina

Rockin'- Kanai Style! Hi, I was wondering if you folks had any information on so-called "Kanai Live Rock". An online (Canadian) supplier is offering this liverock at a very reasonable introductory price of $4.39 /lb. I scoured the net for anything related to Kanai Live Rock, and nothing came up. I am nearly done collecting all the equipment needed to start cycling my reef tank, and this will be the last step. Thanks once again for the courteous help, Chris <Well, Chris, I have not had personal experience with this type of rock, but I have seen a friend's system with it, and it was nice stuff. Seems to be lightweight, with nice coralline coverage. I found it quite attractive. My personal take on most live rock is that, as long as it's cured well, light weight, and attractive- it will do the job! And the price you are being quoted seems good to me! Rock on! (I couldn't resist that one!) Regards, Scott F>

Trigger and Live Rock  3/30/03 hey again Phil<Hey Tyler!> If I bought a Huma trigger what is the smallest size fish I could keep with it?<This depends on the trigger.  I've seen some that are fine with smallish fish, others rip damsels apart in a few minutes.> Would he get along with a flame angel, clowns, full grown Firefish.<There's a good possibly that this should work out fine.  The tank is between 125 gallons... so that gives "appx." say 20 gallons per fish.  This is if you get 1 Angel, 2 Clowns, 2 Firefish and one Trigger.>   What's a good web site to buy live rock for cheap.<Hehe Cheep live rock??  Where? LOL!  Depends on what ya want.  I like Harbor Aquatics, but they do cost a bit more then other places.  But HA live rock has lots of life on it.  Read over our forums as we just had some posts about live rock.  www.wetwebfotos.com/talk  >   Thanks! Tyler<Hope this helps and good luck!! Phil>

Greek Live Rock 3/24/03 A few days ago I traveled to the open sea, which is located just one hour from my house and picked up 4 small pieces of live rock. I transferred it in a small bucket with sea water and I slowly acclimated it to my quarantine tank conditions (1022 SPG, 26 C). The sea had a temperature of 18 C and a SPG of 1027. I dedicated about 7 hours in order for the acclimation to be as slow as possible, hoping to save the live rock and creatures on it. <excellent> After 3 days there is still the same live on the LR, which is 4 snails, one small sea urchin and a couple of other small creatures I can not identify. The only thing that makes me worry is that the second day I saw a lot of small creatures , about 0,5mm each, moving quickly on the side glasses of the tank. There are a lot of them, maybe 200 or more but are very small, white-coloured and when I observed them with a zoom, I realized that they have a small tail and a head. <some sort of plankton/larvae... could be many things> They are also on the live rock moving all the time. I do not know what these creatures are, but I have the feeling that they are not so welcome. <there is a greater chance that the are harmless. If they are parasitic, they will likely die before the end of your 4 week QT period> Could you help me identify them and indicate me a way to get rid of them in case they are harmful for my tank? Thanks Thanassis, your Greek friend <no worries, my friend... if they survive through the QT process, they are probably harmless and likely to be eaten by the fishes at any rate. You might remove some at night by collecting them with a flashlight if they are larvae. Best regards, Anthony>

Re: live rock.. Of all days to order live rock..... I went to ffexpress web page and it is now part of smith and Foster's live aquaria. My question is where can I get Walt Smith live rock now that Flying Fish Express is gone??? As always thank you for your time. Dave <No worries... Walt's biz still ships out 200-250 thousand pounds a month... in their own labeled boxes. Do ask whatever source/s you're soliciting for it by name. Most everyone has access to this source. Bob Fenner>

Re: live rock special Hello all. Hope all is well in WWM-Land. <Peachy-keen Brad, Don here tonight> I was wondering your opinion on a "deal" I found on some Marshall Isl. LR. This particular online dealer is selling these pieces at $2/lb. They say it's authentic Marshall that has "minimal coverage"  but still comes in "fantastic shapes and sizes" and "will cover in time". It's just the bottom of the barrel I'd suppose. They probably sold all the good stuff at regular price and now are just dumping the remains (not everyone can be a star). At least they're not trying to sell it as "premium". Anyway, I have a 125 gal w/ 90 lbs of mixed Fiji and Tonga that is doing very well. I'd really like about another 90lbs ($400-$600 regular Fiji/Tonga whatever) and this rock would be $180/shipping for the same amount. I personally don't mind if it's not 100% coralline covered as I'm more concerned with surface area. I guess I'm wondering if this rock will still serve it's purpose as biological filtration. Would it's benefits be immediate or would it be like adding "dead" rock? I guess that would depend on the coverage, huh? Would there be any harm in this? I just wanted to see what you guys thought about this. Should I be wary? > your description, it sounds as if this is what is normally called 'base rock'. Normally used under the good stuff. Unless it indeed does look 'good'. It will become 'live' (supporting critters and bacteria) in time and will grow coralline, sponges, etc. if given the appropriate environment. You may want to QT this rock for a few weeks. Simple lighting, heater, powerhead, power filter, and an inexpensive plastic tub/container. Get some eggcrate and pvc to make posts/platform and suspend the rock off the bottom a couple inches. Put some bait (like a store bought shrimp) on the bottom to entice any hitchhikers to come out so they don't end up in your tank. Hope this helps, Don> Have a great day and play nice, Brad

Mixing Live Rock - 2/13/03 A shop that has an ad on your site (live aquaria) has some Lalo rock, I think this is a type of Tonga rock. Is it good, bad would be ok alone or should it be mixed with Fiji? Steve <Mixing live rock has it benefits and disadvantages... mostly its a good thing unless you are setting up a biotope display for a specific niche/region. Enjoy the diversity. I cannot comment on its quality but suspect that any reasonable product once cured 2-4 weeks will be fine and interesting. Anthony>

Live rock questions - 2/14/03 Hey guys!  <Hi> Thanks for writing so quickly last time. I really appreciate your help. <Thanks you for asking your question on this great forum. Paul trying to answer as quickly as the last time> This time I'll keep it short. I'm finally done setting up all the hardware and I'm planning on adding all the live rock at the same time once I get the water mixed and ready.<Good>   My question is regarding the live rock itself, should I wait before I add it to the brand new tank or should I just add it with the live-sand as soon as the salt is dissolved. <Mmmmmm......are you talking about already cured or uncured live rock? In other words are you curing it in the display tank? Actually, you know what? I think you could at it all at the same time, regardless, in my opinion.>   Also I've seen the Fiji premium rock at local dealers and it looks nothing like the pictures on the net or the books. <Probably because it is in a state of curing. Sometimes there are less than optimal tank conditions going on as well.>  The one around here looks like it has been striped of all life on it. <Again, constantly being replenished as rock is sold new rock thrown in! The live rock are in a constant state of cycling and curing>  My second question is regarding the Caribbean aquacultured aquarium live-rock is it as good as Fiji and will 100lbs will be enough for 90gal tank? <Sure on both. A little more or a little less rock would be fine. I don't think it will hurt either way. I, of course, really like the aquacultured option because it goes a long way toward a sustainable industry. There are various dealers out there with varying degrees of satisfaction. Check the forums and see what others think. Otherwise I like the amount you are planning to add and I like your choices. Money may be of consideration here. Sometimes Premium Fiji live rock can be very expensive vs. Caribbean Aquacultured or vice versa. I feel both are very suitable to do the job (regardless of your choice.) Here is a link for you to check out on live rock: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm > This rock looks great it has lots of live things on it and it seem to have this red coloring to it (might be algae). <Mmmm...probably more like sponges tunicates and other benthic and sessile organisms or even more likely, varying species coloration of coralline algae> I just want to make sure that this rock will do sufficient biofiltration job. <you can count on it> I'm also using EuroReef skimmer 6-2 and I'm planning on converting my sump into a refugium overtime. <Sounds very nice.> Thank you again for your time and knowledge <Our pleasure. Let us know if you go with the aquacultured live rock and what you think of it.> Pavel S <Pavel M - out>

New Tank and live rock Hello, I'm starting up a FOWLR 55 gallon saltwater tank and I'm planning on adding about 40-50 lbs. of live rock. I probably won't add fish for another 3-4 weeks ( since I'm tapped out), so my question is..... Do I need to buy cured live rock or can I just go the cheap route and buy un-cured rock and let it cure in my tank for a month? <Good thing for you and your future livestock that you are tapped out. A new tank will take 4-6 wks (more the better) for the nitrogen cycle to complete. You can buy uncured live rock and it will cure as the tank cycles. See here and beyond for info on setup http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/. Lot's to research and understand. Take this cycle time to do so. Highly recommended that you use a quarantine tank for new additions as well. Again, see this site for discussions. Go slow, read/understand and you are much more likely to be successful. Don>

Re: Live Rock Here's a picture of what 90lbs of live rock (from FFE) looks like in a 70 gal. (48"{x18"x20") looks like. I think Bryon was asking!                                                                           Scott in Denver. <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

Re: Live Rock Hi guys, Hope everyone enjoyed the super bowl?<Oh ya Bucs won!> I have a different kind of question about LR.  I am making the move from FO, and setting up a 75gal reef tank.  Close to purchasing the LR.  Have been told b/f by the WWM crew that 90lbs should be fine.  Plan on getting the LR from FFE (2 45lb boxes).  Here lies the question.  I am in the design/aquascaping phase (on paper) and it hit me...I have no idea how much 90 lbs of LR is.  ( I know it's 90lbs)I have never dealt w/ it before have seen it for sale at LFS, but have no idea how much 90lbs really is.  I know that it matters how porous the rock is and such, but...I was hoping you could give me a general idea how much/many pieces of LR I can expect?  I mean is 90lbs going to be 4 pieces (big ones huh), or will the amount I am wanting go as far as making a nice aquascape.  I know there are a lot of variables.  Thanks Bryan. <Well Bryan... 90lbs of live rock (LR) will be all different sizes.  That's what I love about FFE, they work with you on sizes.  IMO, you should call FFE and ask what sizes are in they 45lbs packs.  My LFS offers a 45 pound pack. Most of the pieces are small and only a few pounds.  There are a few large pieces like 18-15 pounds.  I wish I could say for sure how much 90lbs is...  but it varies soo much!  My advice is to call FFE.  Hope this helps!>                         <Phil>

Live rock? Selection WWM Crew. I have a 300g F\O with some inverts. As of now I have about 150# of live base rock and I want to add more rock to my system. My question is; would I be wasting my money buying the more expensive live rock, with all the goodies on it? The base rock that I have been buying consists of odds and ends of Fiji and Marshall Isle etc., with pretty much of nothing on it: no algae, no critters, mainly just live rock leftovers. I pay about $2.50 a lb. Is there much to gained by buying the premium Fiji or Marshall Isle at about $6.00-$8.00 a lb., <Not corresponding with the price difference. The not-so nice rock you've been buying will likely become as nice as the higher priced product> when using it for a fish only system? At this time all tank mates are thriving and I could not be happier with their adjustment to their larger quarters. At the present I am keeping, 1- Queen Angel, 1-Rock Beauty, 1-Flame angel, 1-Eibli Angel, 1-Heniochus(planning on adding 2 more), 1-Naso tang, 1-Powder blue tang, 3-small Blue Tangs, 1-French angel, 1-Yellow tang, 1-Snowflake eel, Several green Chromis, Several Bluefin Damsels, Several Blue Reef Chromis. I am wondering if the better rock would be more suitable to their needs long term? Thank you for your help. Rick   <For me, if you have the extra money and really like the look, you might buy some super spiffy rock to place on top of what you have. For me (a bargain hunter, okay an original cheapskate), I'd just get more of the less-expensive. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Size I have a 125 gallon tank that has been running about 8 weeks.  I have 4 damsels in it now.  I am going to add live rock and I would like to know is there any benefits in the size of the rock that you use?  Are larger pieces better than small or vice versa.  I have two BioWheel filters (400 gph each), and a protein skimmer. This will be a fish only tank.    Will 75 lbs be enough to help my filtration. <Mmm, well, smaller pieces do have more surface area per unit weight, volume... but in most all cases this is a minor matter. I would get whatever sizes you think look best, and build with them. Seventy five pounds will be good here. Bob Fenner>

Florida Live Rock Dear bob, Anthony or whoever is kind enough to answer my query, <Anthony at bat> Is live rock from Florida as good as live rock from Fiji? <rock from any given location is likely to have its merits and demerits. Some advantages to Florida live rock: shorter time of transit from collection point so microfauna has greater chance of survival, different fauna altogether from common Pacific imports (interesting in their own right), better chance of getting plants and macroalgae if you like them, better chance of small coral to survive incidental importation. The biggest disadvantage to Florida and Atlantic live rock is that it is largely formed sedimentary (unlike much volcanic activity in the Pacific and heavy overgrown Acroporid branches)... this means that the Atlantic rock is not only a lot more dense (like concrete!) and that you'll pay more money to fill the same space as you would with Fiji rock... but that because of its density it is more limited in potential biological faculties, microfauna, etc> I live in the Gulf coast of Florida and have purchased some Tampa Bay Saltwater live rock (35# for my 29 gal tank) and have had it in my tank "cycling" for 4 weeks. I finally got to 0 ammonia, but my nitrites and nitrates are high. <Interesting... perhaps a something large inside the rock has died (urchin, starfish, bivalve, etc). It will be fine in time and with water changes and a good protein skimmer running> The rock is beautiful and came with sponges, crabs, corals and anemones growing on it, as well as a mollusk that opens and closes at will (looks like part of the rock, but opens 1/4" and closes up at will - very interesting). The rock is much more dense than the Fiji rock that my LFS sells, but I like all the life on it and freight is not an issue because I just drive over and get it on Saturdays from TBS. <agreed... I prefer a mix of rock if you are not setting up a biotope aquarium> The LFS guy told me that my live rock is cultured from limestone, which will deteriorate over time in saltwater and cause my nitrates/nitrites/ammonia to stay high. Is this true or is he just trying to get me to purchase his LR? <he's lying about everything except the limestone part (its ALL limestone!)... reward his dishonesty by not shopping there unless you think he is simply ignorant and he would be willing to learn differently> I wrote TBS to ask the question about what type of rock they aquaculture and will let you know their response. Meanwhile, could you give me your experience/opinion as to whether Gulf coast rock is good for a reef setup? <While I do like the sponge growth from it... I find it way too dense to be practical or natural looking for most reef set-ups. Particularly because all corals we get are Pacific. Aside from the growths on it, the TBS rock are shaped liked ugly bricks as far as I'm concerned <G> and do not stack well or attractively. But that is just my personal preference. An Atlantic reef display instead could be quite magnificent!> I noticed in reading the FAQs that you mention Gulf rock as ok for a Gulf biotope. What exactly do you mean by that. <best for a region specific display... Gulf plants, fishes, corallimorphs, gorgonians, etc. A very specific and natural display without Pacific or non-indigenous species> Thanks in advance for your help. I am nearly ready to give up as I have invested $600 in the setup and still don't have a fish. VERY FRUSTRATED. Diane Bedard <please don't be frustrated at all... its a beautiful hobby. Don't let one or two knuckleheads ruin it for the rest of us nice guys or for your enjoyment in this wonderful pastime. You'll be fine, my friend. Just read books and content on your own and try to seek more advice from people who aren't trying to sell you something <wink>. Best regards, Anthony>

Live rock. Hi guys, I noticed I can save on live rock online. There is some real nice stuff at a LFS from a torn down 3 year old reef display but its $10 per #. Is there a good source you trust online? <<Really depends on where you are located, IE: shipping. For many more reliable opinions than mine, try WWF forums and go to the live rock and sand pages. Many on-line experiences and references. http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/index.jsp Craig>>

8/02 Daily Q/A Comment (LR sources, endorsement in Dallas, TX) Hello! On the Daily Q/A page dated 8/20, there was an email from Ross Thompson, requesting the best way a hobbyist can get live rock, since Walt Smith will not sell direct. (I'm not sure who answered the question, the letter isn't signed.) <What? Actually, I just took a look and it was replied to by Anthony (please look again)> Since Ross is in the DFW area, could you pass this along? I would like to recommend my LFS, Fish Paradise, in Fort Worth. The owner, Mr. Lee, has lots of rock with the purple coralline on it for sale, at $6.99 per pound. (Tonga is 7.99 per lb.) <Will post on WWM... but (and this is an unfortunate situation here) we don't (purposely) retain (nor distribute) people's emails (other than by direct/express consent/request... and hope he sees it... Others will benefit from your help though, doubtlessly.> Also, Dallas North Aquarium has rock, but I found the customer must choose very carefully, as some rock states "cured" but isn't. However, a "good" rock will have lots of extras on it, whereas Mr. Lee's usually doesn't. I do not know if you can post/forward phone numbers, but I will add it, and you can edit as you wish: Fish Paradise is 817.263.1148 and DNA is 972.492.6165. Thanks, and have a great day! -Cathy Hughes -Fort Worth, TX <Thank you much... may I refer you, others to our chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ which has a "more active" feature for such info. exchange/sharing (one is on live rock, another section on etailers, retailer/sources). Bob Fenner>

Best Place for Hobbyists to Buy Live Rock? Guys, <cheers> I read in previous threads that you recommend Walt Smith International as the best place to buy live rock. I logged onto their website and filled out a form requesting a password in order to see their pricing. I received an email response back from them today saying they don't sell directly to hobbyists - only to dealers (didn't know they were a dealer-only site). <no worries... many of the largest wholesalers stock his rock and it trickles down to your locals> Question - I'm ready to buy some live rock... In your opinion, what's the best place for a hobbyist to buy live rock (hopefully a dealer who buys from Walt Smith)? <you can ask Walt Smith to refer you to a dealer. But my advice is to negotiate a good price from a local store and see that the rock is cured before you buy it. It is really worth some extra money. If you have never cured live rock before then you are in for a scary smelly treat. If you want to try to save money by purchasing mail order rock... be prepared for water changes, heavy skimming and a bare-bottomed tub or vessel. There is no such thing as "cured" rock that gets air shipped. Air shipping kills organisms and requires the curing process. Read more in the Wet Web Media archives about curing live rock. Anthony> Thanks, Ross Thompson DFW, Texas

Live Rock Sourcing Bob What is a good place to buy live rock I have no FS near by. RGibson <Please read through the Live Rock sections on WetWebMedia.com and ask the same question of actual end-users/consuming aquarists on our chatforum: http://wetwebfotos.com/talk/ Bob Fenner>

Mixing Live and Base Rock sorry guys for being such a pain. Just emailed this am about live rock being ok in the set up phase. Was also wondering should I get a combination of base rock and live rock? will the base rock eventually become live rock or no? I'm planning a 75 gal with eventually 75+ of live rock but affording in the beginning less than that probably 45 from ffexpress. thanks for all your help. <Can surely be done. Please read through the live rock (and base) materials archived on WWM, starting here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm and/or use the search tool on the homepage, indices. Bob Fenner, in PA soon...> Colleen Pittsburgh, PA

Mail-Order Liverock Hi, I love your website...so much great information it keeps me up late at night. What's your opinion of aquacultured live rock from places like Gulf View or Tampa Bay Saltwater ? <My only problem with the stuff is it is very dense. If I were setting up an Atlantic species tank, I would use it. Otherwise, I would purchase rock of Pacific origin.> What other LR mail-order places do you recommend for imported LR? <Take a look at the WWM Forum under Local/Internet Fish Stores for recommendations.> Thanks, Darrell <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Haitian live rock Hello Guys-  <greetings from the cultural center of the universe... Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, where muscle tee-shirts and mullet haircuts are always in vogue> I'm setting up my 75 gal. reef tank here in south Florida and the LFS has what looks to be beautiful cured live rock from Haiti. I've searched everywhere for info about this stuff and can't find any. IYO is this stuff comparable in filtration ability and bacterial colonization as the rock from the indo-pacific area? thanks a lot! Craig < I have enjoyed this rock myself and do have an opinion for you. Haitian live rock is often heavily covered in strong coralline algae (blue/purple and dark). The shapes are also often unique and quite unlike any other rock. However, since it like most any Atlantic rock, it is formed by sedimentation (or dense encrusted scleractinians like palmate Acroporas)... as such, it is arguably not as biologically diverse or efficient as the porous Pacific isle rocks like Fiji. Kindly, Anthony>

Tufa vs. Live Rock Dear Bob. I don't know how it came to be that I found your site. I guess you hear it often enough but allow me to join the thankful chorus of aquarists. <Am glad to be here> Two weeks ago I was setting up a Dutch style planted FW decoration. Today I have a partly cycled tank of Instant Ocean blazing away in my family room. I have read a multitude of advise, some of it necessarily conflicting. <You are wise here> There is the school that encourages hobby marine farmers to take nothing from the real ocean that can be obtained from the descendants of long ago captured species. Your encouragement to utilize and pay for the labor of those who would otherwise have to do without slipped my transmission into neutral as it were. Aside from the problems of getting product into Canada (CITES et al.) and the terrible price once landed here ($10.00 +), would you reiterate your position that collecting rock from the wild causes virtually no environmental harm?  <This is a verity... Much more "live rock" is purposely covered over daily than the trade has made use of in its history...> Given the two aforementioned obstacles, could you find it in your heart to concede to propagation of "artificial" live rock on some locally obtainable substrate?  <Yes... though such products actually entail much more environmental "costs" and are inferior almost to a one> I am told that the only true commercially viable Tufa deposits are located right here in British Columbia. Would this calcium carbonate material be at home in a reef tank. I have heard argument both ways. Sincerely, Fred. <I am not a fan of Tufa as a substrate for marine systems... as you will find by reading on WetWebMedia.com under Live Rock FAQs, Marine Substrate FAQs... I would seek others opinions, input to formulate your own... I favor calcium carbonate recently extracted from the oceans. Bob Fenner>

Lace Rock in a Marine Aquarium Bob / Anthony / Steve, I really enjoy this site!  <very glad to hear it. Anthony> It has cleared up several issues already like..... "2" substrate should be under 1/2" or over 3" and you MUST have a quarantine tank" and my favorite "bristle worms will not come out of the tank at night and kill you in your sleep" ;-]  <actually, that last one really isn't true... I've never seen bristleworms kill anything larger than a Chihuahua... and it didn't impress me... I don't even like Mexican fast-food> However, I now know that I would like a bigger tank, large sump, refugium, etc.... Down to business: FOWLR - 40 gal tank, Eclipse 3 filtration, 15lbs live rock, temp 76, PH 8.3, Ammonia 0 - 0.2 (hard to tell the difference), Nitrite 0, Nitrate 0-5 (again difficult to tell the difference), phosphates came down from 1.0 to 0.5 on its own had 1.0ppm phosphate in the tap water). I'm using an in tank Coralife protein skimmer 3(only one that fits without modifying the hood) that gets about 8oz. skimmate every two days (dark green tea color).  <excellent> I have done a 10% water change at the two week mark.  <future reference...10%weekly or 15-20% biweekly would be better> Currently, I'm using a Hagen powerhead 402 with a quick filter attachment loaded with Phosphate sponge to pull down the Phosphates to 0. There are two Allen Damsels, <gorgeous fish> 1 Humbug damsel, 9 small hermit crabs blue leg and black/white, <a herd or crabs...or is it a gaggle, maybe even a flock> 6 snails (turbo), and 1 emerald crab. All seem healthy. The live rock is loaded with white brittle stars, a couple of brown button polyps, spaghetti worms, coralline algae, and some Caulerpa. I just got the quarantine tank today and plan to seed it with water and 1/2" substrate from the display tank. I have been aging my water for at least a week and plan to use the Quickfilter to take out the phosphate before it gets into the tank (so I don't have that huge filter and powerhead in my tank too). I went to my LFS to pickup some more LR. They were very picked over so I thought about getting some rock that was dead and big to hide the heater and filter intake. They had a perfect piece of lace rock. I added it to the tank 8 days ago. All appears to be well except I went to a different LFS and they had a huge sign that said lace rock $2/lb FRESHWATER ONLY! Upon questioning, they said that the lace rock contains metals which would poison a marine tank. Have I seriously screwed up? Even though my tank is FOWLR I may upgrade the lighting and add some inverts down the road. Is lace rock poisonous to everything, fish only, or inverts only?  <very tough to say...although harmful mineral deposits are possible. The snails could be one of the first to show it if it was> Of course after looking at the appearance of the lace rock, I wish I would have just added several pieces of base (coral) rock and built it up, however, hindsight is 20/20. Also, there are tiny 1/32" long white things crawling on the lace rock and the glass near it. Any thoughts as to what they may be? Are they harmful? helpful? <likely helpful...send a picture if possible> Since Christmas when I received the aquarium as a gift, I have learned a ton from Bob's book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and this site. Unfortunately, I found the site and got the book after I had the aquarium up and running or I would have gone a different route from the start. However, the aquarium looks good where it is and now is a challenge to keep everything alive without the sump, refugium, U.V, ozone, etc.....I do plan to add a 55watt PC in about four months once I'm done tinkering with the aquascape so the coralline and future toadstool leather coral will do ok. Thanks for the help and the great reading. Kinzie <zuppa! Anthony>

Look what I dug up?!

Bob, <Anthony Calfo here in the interim> A very quick question - is it safe to put a small(6") piece of flagstone in my established system? Will it hurt anything? I have about 90 lbs of live rock - been set up about 2 months. Thanks\ <Likely OK but ultimately not worth the risk... no assurance of freedom from harmful mineral deposits/composition. Besides... we have live rock from Fiji and Tonga in every conceivable shape available from birds nest branches to flat plates (AKA shelf rock)> John Kummer <best of luck, John>

Re: Need your opinion on my Live Rock options Hello again Bob, Boy do you ever rest!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks so much for your getting back to me so quickly. You've clearly helped me make a wise choice. <When I rest, I rest, play, play... you have made a wise choice> Now - Off of the lighting subject for a moment. In my search for quality live rock (100 + lbs for a 72G) which, IYO of course, is the most cost effective, aesthetically pleasing and functional for biological filtration? <Changes quite often... with season, supplier, protocols... mainly sources in the South Pacific. Best to query a number of competent hobbyists who are more up to date. Our group: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/> There are so many types from so many locations that this is a very confusing choice. Which is it going to be???? and if you're willing to go out on a limb - Whom should I buy from? Alor Live Rock from Bali Maori Live Rock Branch Rock from Fiji Premium FIJI Deep Water Tonga Hapai Island Marshall Island Tonga Ridge Aquacultured Rock from the Gulf. <Again, ask the WWF Chatforum... they know better than I> What is your experience, if any, with Tampa Bay Saltwater? They seem to have a very comprehensive package. <Nice folks there. Honest, competent. A bit more money (per volume)... but a good choice all the way around and THE choice for tropical West Atlantic biotopic presentations> Always a pleasure to chat with you - Ed <Be doing so. Bob Fenner>

Hello from Spain.... Question.. (using local live rock) Robert, I'm setting up my 55 gallon salt water aquarium here. I had one in Guam and really enjoyed it. Have been told here (by a local aquarium supply store owner) that I could not use the live rock from the local seas, here in Southern Spain, for tropical fish they have imported from Fiji and Micronesia. Is this true.... and would I have to buy his live rock with bacteria from "Fiji" for fish from there???? Thanks, Tim <Mmm, you can/could use the live rock (from most anywhere actually)... and is at least a great savings money wise, let alone worthwhile experiment to cure, adapt to "aquarium conditions". Do read over the "Live Rock" sections on WetWebMedia.com for background... and consider a biotopic presentation with local (Mediterranean) organisms... much that is interesting, beautiful there. Bob Fenner> Tim Thompson

RE: Hello from Spain.... Question.. Bob, thanks much for the quick response. Will try it out... Much appreciate the info. Tim <Good luck my friend. Life to you. Bob Fenner> Tim Thompson 

Live Rock question Hi,, A friend of mine has a reef tank that sprung a leak a while back.. <Yikes. No fun> He took out all the corals and fish and moved it out into the garage until he can get a new tank.(200 gallon tank takes a while to save up for that kinda of beast). <Glass or acrylic... we can talk about repairing, re-sealing...> He's maintained the filtration going but pretty much keeps the lights off though. He wants to get rid of a lot of the rock and go half rock/half fish now. The thing is all the rock is kinda all white now.. No more purple algae and stuff on it... <Can come back with enhanced lighting, improved water quality, time.> He still has turbo snails alive in it not many) He says he tests the water everyone in a while and its ok.. Could this rock probably still alive? <Yes... at least enough remnants of life forms to make it serviceable, attractive> or probably dead now from hardly any light and life in the system? Would getting some and introducing it in my tank bring it back to life faster than rock that already has algae and what not on it.. <Not faster... would be better to add some new just-cured live rock on top of this older material> I'm just trying to figure out if this would be a smart buy since he's getting rid of it very cheap.. Tonga and Marshall island for around $2 a lb... <A deal... worth considering. Bob Fenner>

Other sources of LR Hey Bob. I know LR collection is illegal in most of the U.S., but are there any spots at all along the Atlantic/Pacific coasts where you may acquire live rock, <Mmm, actually don't know, keep up with the latest laws... who can? I'd check with the State Fish & Game wherever you're thinking about collecting any part of the environment. Their numbers can be found on the Net, Gov't listings in phone directories...> or would this rock not be quality enough to use anyway? <Mmm, not really from most anywhere but around/in Florida's waters... unless you're involved in a biotopic presentation. Let's say for example a "cool/cold water reef" of Monterey Bay... with rock from thereabouts. Most all (non-Floridian) continental U.S. rock not calcareous, possessing life forms of real use for tropicals...> I've been snorkeling a couple times off of the beaches in central FL, but don't remember seeing reef life comparable to the Keys/Bahamas.  <Mmm, is a bit different... but mostly the same.> Thanks for the great advice, doing this hobby a great favor. Take Care. Rex <Thanks for writing. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Bob Once again thank you for all your help in advance. I feel like I am taking advantage of you by asking all these questions but it is nice to have someone you can talk to that isn't trying to sell you something. <A guarded view of the world is at times warranted> I just purchased 86 pounds of live rock from a place called Seatrade. They told me that their rock comes from Walt Smith and the rock I am buying has been sitting in a tank for two years. <Hmm, the former part is easy to believe... and it is a good idea to replace "old" live rock... so they may be selling off some that they've been using> I find this hard to believe but it could be the truth. I was told by the sales person that the rock would not spike my ammonia levels and all I needed to do once I received the rock was to soak it in fresh water for 30 to 45 minutes and it was good to go. <Probably no spike... but why the freshwater soak? If anything was going to cause a "metabolic" die-off (and an ammonia et al. spike) it would be killing off a good part of the live part of the rock...> Does this sound like good advice and if so do I need to soak the rock in RO water or would treated tap water work. I am interested to know your thoughts on this situation. Thanks again. Jason <Curiouser and curiouser... I wouldn't soak this rock in anything... Would just place it... is there a concern that it may harbor pathogens? If so, I would place it w/o fish hosts present and leave it at a slightly lowered spg, elevated temp. for a month or so... as stated: http://wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

Live Rock (purchase source) First off, I wanted to tell you that I purchased your book and have been reading it. It is a great book, keep up the good work! <Thank you. I will try> A few questions now: 1. Do you know if World Wide Pet Supply (http://www.worldwidepetsupply.com) is a good company to buy live rock from?  <I have only heard a few reports/anecdotes re this company. All good. But you might want to post your query on a chatforum or BB: ours: http://talk.wetwebfotos.com/, as the avid aquarists who participate in these have far more first and second hand experience with such firms> If not, do you have any other suggestions? <There are several... many are listed on our Links Page: http://wetwebmedia.com/links.htm> 2. World Wide Pet Supply sells their live rock for $2.99 + $.18 shipping per pound. The cheapest shipping from other companies is $.65 per pound. Is this a reason to be concerned? <Hmm, it is a good idea to "shop around", but not simply for price... there is a very wide variation in quality of live rock (et al.) from even the same area/country... by supplier. Do solicit the opinions of the folks on our Chatforum here> 3. In our town of Idaho Falls we don?t know of anyone to get a cup of live sand from. Any suggestions (maybe you could send some, just joking :) ? <I'd just use the live rock for seeding your dead substrate: http://wetwebmedia.com/livesand.htm> Thanks again, Kevin <Keep reading my friend. Bob Fenner>

Tampa Bay Liverock I saw a response you had in relation to Tampa Bay Liverock, which stated that you do not and would not purchase rock from them.  <Hmm, don't think I would state this carte blanche... a well-regarded (by me and most everyone else in the trade and end-users of record) company... am not a fan of the source of the product compared to the subsidized (cheap air freight) South Pacific product... but do endorse this company/site as the best that I know of for rock of/from the tropical West Atlantic. Superb for biotopic presentations from there> I wanted to know why. I am in the process of purchasing live rock from them and I want to know if I made a mistake. I am creating a mini reef in a 10 gallon tank (no fish), and I wanted to start with good cured live rock. They seem to have a good product, but I would like your opinion. If they are not a good choice, what would be better? thanks <Once again, and sorry to not be clear (before or here), there is naught wrong with their product... and if you're close enough to FLA to make the price comparable to the South Pacific sources, or wanting to keep, present Caribbean livestock... so be it... and for such a small system, amount of rock, no real savings, loss cost-wise either way. Bob Fenner>

Re: Tampa Bay Liverock Wow, that was a fast response! Thank you.....I have 1 more question to squeak in, well at least at the moment, I am sure I will have more in the future! When references are made towards lighting, and the amount of light per gallon needed, ex. 3 to 4 watts per gallon, does this only relate to "white" light, or does this include "actinic" lighting as well?  <Good question... as a "rule of thumb", this includes total illumination> For instance, on my 10 gallon tank, it has 2 32 watt power compacts, 1 10000K white and 1 actinic. Does this mean I have about 6 watts per gallon, or 3 watts per gallon? <More like the former> Thanks again for that speedy response. I am glad I stumbled on to this website, there is a lot of valuable information! <Due to the interaction of friends like yourself. Bob Fenner>

live rock source Hi Bob ! Thanks for the advice about going to Octopus' Garden. I talked to Ron there and he was very nice and helpful. You were right, he was very knowledgeable, more so than anyone else I have met who owns a store. <Yes. A very fine person... very glad to have him as a member of the industry> He said you were also his landlord. Lucky him, he has access to good knowledge from you AND he has a store. <Yes my friend... lots of worthwhile work indeed> Sounds like you both have very good lives! <I agree> So do you have any other houses for rent? I am a VERY good tenant! <Will keep you in mind. Have very few vacancies in the course of years.> Thanks for the help again,... and again,... and again. Jana <Thank you, Bob Fenner>

live rock source Hi Mr. Fenner, Couple of questions: 1. I am about to make and install an overflow box into my aquarium. I understand why it is there and how it works, what I don't understand is the purpose for the box that hangs on the outside of the tank. Couldn't you just have the siphon hose go from inside the overflow box to the protein skimmer (or sump)?  <Hmm, you could... but how would you control the rate of flow? You'd have to have some mechanism/s in place to match the pump/return of water from the sump (or alternatively have both the main/display tank at the same "level" as the sump...). The "other" box I think you're referring to with the overflow riser in it is a device that limits the overflow level.> I have thought and thought and thought (using lost reason,... oops, I mean LOTS of reason) and I just can't come up with a purpose for the thing ! Also, how the heck do you start a siphon on those big, rigid U-tubes that connect the two boxes of the overflow box assembly together? <A few ways... with equally large stoppers plugging both ends after you've filled the u-tubes in a bucket or sink... or with a bit of airline type tubing and your sucking out the air with the u-tubes in place, water on either side of them... or drilling and connecting a valve/outlet to the high part of the u-tubes and sucking the air out and capping off/closing the valves...> 2. In the next few weeks I am going to be purchasing about 75-100 lbs. of live rock. It is very important for me to get it cured because my tank has already cycled. When I first set the tank up, I didn't know that a good way to cycle it was to use live rock, so I tortured four little damsels with the burden of cycling (only two made it through and they are my sole residents right now, and I hate to put them through the cycling again).  <Hmm, could have cured the rock just as well... make that better w/o the damsels... in place or in another container.> I live in San Diego and have dealt with several tropical fish stores, all of which around my area (Oceanside) are VERY unreliable.  <Mmm, we live in San Diego as well... perhaps you could try Octopus' Garden down in Kearny Mesa for an alternate source of information, products and livestock... I know the young folks there to be honest and competent> And of course they'll all tell me it's cured. Since you live in the area (SD) too, is there any store which would be the most reputable to purchase the live rock from. Or is mail order an option? <Oh! And yes mail-order is definitely an option> Thanks for all of the advice all of the time ! Jana <Chat with you soon. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Questions Greetings again, Mr. Fenner. I feel I should be paying you for all of the wonderful advice you've provided me! :-) You'd undoubtedly get rich setting up a 900 number! <As my father used to say, "Never turn down the cash". Thanks for this.> My questions now concern the purchase of live rock. I've read what you have to say about Fiji LR, both on the WWM site and the WSI site, and I suppose I'm a little too geographically challenged to differentiate between the Fiji rock and some other kinds of LR I am considering buying. <There is indeed more "within group differences" in this collected material than "between group differences"... Not all Fiji rock is worthwhile... and it is highly variable...> I have the opportunity to buy (from an online company) 90 pounds of pre-cured Fiji LR for about $300 including 2nd day delivery shipping. However, this site also has a collection of uncured LR containing 1/3 deep water Tonga, 1/3 Hapai Island, and 1/3 hand-picked Fiji rock for double the price of the regular Fiji LR. My question is whether it generally (not company-specific) is worth double the money for the collection of different varieties of LR.  <Have heard of such deals... don't know the players, results well enough to have an opinion... maybe ask on the listservs?> This is a hefty expense, considering we are also ordering live sand. I've never had LR before, and am so ready to branch out from our 1 year old fish-only setup, and my goal is a gorgeous tank that makes our captive friends very happy. <I understand> The LR & LS is our first step in that direction. I want to spend my hard-earned money the wisest way possible, and don't want to needlessly spend an additional $300 for something that may not be all that much better. What are your thoughts on this? <Personally... I'm more inclined to go with the least expensive source of "just" whatever make/model you can... Do look around on the Net for full box (seems you did as this is about two boxes worth), as "the lowest net (delivered) price/means of getting the LR to you... And consider just making your own "live sand"... most of this is "made" by the same method, of curing live rock in/around an Aragonitic substrate... you can make your own with your new live rock...> Oh, and while my fish are in a hospital tank and the main tank is going fallow, would it be okay to cure the 90 lbs. of LR in my main tank, which has a monster protein skimmer?  <Yes, of a certainty... Please see the "Curing Live Rock" FAQs posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for much more here> Our only alternative would be to cure it in a trash can with a CPR BakPak skimmer, which I'm not sure would be able to handle what I anticipate will be a major skimming job. There would be no life forms in the main tank except for whatever's on the LR and in the LS. Would there be a major stench doing it in the main tank? <Likely not... in fact, perhaps a nice "clean ocean water smell"... > Thank you most kindly, Sherri J. <You're welcome, m'lady. Bob Fenner>

Re: New Reef Tank Bob, Thanks so much for your quick response. The CPR unit with skimmer that I am considering is a below the tank model. I am very limited on space so was trying to avoid any type of hang-on units. <I see> I just want to be sure that the CPR (its comes with a built-in skimmer) is a good choice. The only thing I am not sure of yet is whether a heater will fir in it. <It is a good unit... we have some of them here "on test"... and yes to being able to fit heaters in them> Another question I have is about the live rock. I was considering ordering from Tampa Bay Saltwater. I have heard some very good feedback on them. I recently found out that GARF is located here in Boise, where I live. I see they also sell there own live rock & GARF grunge. Any suggestions? Thanks again, Paul <The Tampa Bay people are honest, competent, and good friends to the interest... the GARF folks are well-intentioned and enthusiastic... but I would/do not buy anything from them. Bob Fenner>

Fiji Rock Vs Vanisi Tonga Rock  Hi Bob:  I have read your articles, Q&A on live rocks and live sand on the  internet. They give me tons on knowledge and I appreciate.  I have about 80 lbs. of Fiji live rocks in my 120 gallon tank.  I am thinking of buying another 40 lbs. of rock. I have a choice between  the Fiji and Vanisi Tonga Rock ordered by mail from Vancouver to Ottawa in Canada.  The Tonga rock (not the branch) is $7.95 a pound while the Fiji is $5.40 a pound. both are cured. The retailer claims that there are multiple coralline algae, encrusted coral and macro algae on the Tonga rocks. There are more holes in the Tonga rocks too. As I could not look at them, I don't know if the additional costs really worth it. I wonder if it is worthwhile to spend 33% more on Tonga rock than Fiji rock if they have about the same capability to keep my aquarium healthy. <I wonder too...> Do you think the additional growth and more holes in the Tonga rock worth the additional costs? <Don't know... both products are extremely variable in "initial quality"... the only way I'd be able to grant you an opinion is to see both at hand...> My other option is to go to a local retailer, paying $9 a pound on Fiji rocks, then I can choose the best one I like. <Ah yes, an age-old dilemma. Are there no mail order outfits in "the great white north?"... > Is it worthwhile to save 50 cents a pound and cure the rock myself? <This one I do know... Not really if you intend to place it, the rock, in an already up and going system... and the rock is really "that much better"... Put another way, the chances that the rock will cause troubles is well worth fifty more cents a pound (Canadian or US) to me.> Thanks. Victor Lee Ottawa, Ontario, Canada <Wish I could be of more help here. Bob Fenner> 

Live Rock I came across the web page for Tampa Bay Liverock, it looks interesting and I would like your opinion on this type of product. I have not seen anything in my local shops other than an occasional chunk of "Caribbean live Rock" for around $12 / pound. >> I am interested in hearing what you think. thanks, Denis Brichford >> These folks have very nice "cultured" live rock products (made from placing chunked up parts of "old Florida" (which is/was a coral reef expanse) in shallows, allowing it to become populated with tropical west Atlantic, Gulf organisms...  This U.S. made product is more expensive... and of less utility than most Pacific varieties, due to lower porosity/greater density, mix of life in/on it... and the tremendous low air-freight costs from the south Pacific... But, IMO, the better material for biotopic presentations, collections of Caribbean life. Bob Fenner

re; live rock for 125gal hi, Thanks for answering very fast. where can I get live rock at a low low low low low low price. her in AZ it cost about 7.50 a pound. People have talked about WALT SMITH LIVE ROCK WHERE CAN I GET. I have 125 gallon how many total pounds min. I want my fish to swim also I don't want a tank full of live rock ha hah . THANKS, H.C >> Flying fish (ffexpress.com) has WSI's rock... (Fiji...) and at box rates it's a bargain... you might want to order it in two halves... at about 1 to 1.5 pounds per gallon... and cure/re-cure it in those quantities... with a month or so between.  Bob Fenner

I just purchased a 75G overflow tank to use with a Amiracle SL100 filter. I intend to setup a fish only with live rock tank. I was just wondering what type of live rock to order? I was thinking of ordering some Manono rock from FFExpress. I only have a twin tube light with 40W full spectrum bulbs. I think that would work for the live rock. Also I live in Illinois, will the weather be a concern for shipping the live rock? >> The lighting will be minimalist... I would double it... And good question about the "chill factor" with live rock shipping... A concern, but not generally a real source of trouble... the animals et al. are tolerant... and the boxes seem to be well handled. Bob Fenner

Re: Live Rock Selection Dear Bob, Many thanks to you for your suggestion of installing a sump system for my AGA 72gal aquarium. Very happy that I did it!!!! Always knew I found the right person for advice :-).  <Nothing quite like listening to folks who've "been there, tried this and that"> Followed the suggestion of "trial run" in your book and now have been running the aquarium with Reef Crystal for 2 weeks. Went to FFE to place an order for live rock, got confused as what to get. What can you suggest as far as the different types of rocks to order, i.e., Fiji, Jumbo Fiji, Manono or Marshall. Should I order a combination of all to give me a diverse look in the tank?  <Maybe... depends on the look, presentation you're trying to achieve... Maybe a box of two? Fiji and... on top? Take a look at the pix ffexpress has of the last two..> How much rock (lbs) do I need for a fish/reef tank? Is 1 to 1.5 lbs. enough? I just want to order sufficient and get over with the cycling grief. Thanks in advance and honour your advice. Rich <Somewhere around this amount... for the shape, size of your system, 2 or 3 boxes... is a good bet> P.S. Noticed my water isn't very clear (running for 2 weeks now). There seem to be a lot of minute bubbles and/or undissolved salt particles floating around. I know for a fact it is not from the protein skimmer (Aqua C) because I tried running with or without the skimmer. I have a RIO 2500 for the return. Any inputs on this? Thanks again. >> <Patience... with the rock in... and a little time, it will all clear of its own accord, Bob Fenner>

Getting ready to make first order Hi Bob, After visiting your web site several times and hearing very positive feedback on your products and service, I am ready to become a loyal customer. I am setting up a new reef tank (nothing is currently in it except some rock I just added from another tank) and would like your opinion on the live rock FFE sells. What kind of rock do you think is the nicest for the money -- most coralline growth and other "surprise" growths -- Fiji, Manono or Pago? Secondly, do you recommend the pre-cured or un-cured rock (and why)? Thirdly, can I add the uncured rock directly to my new tank or do I have to put that rock in a temporary system for cycling before adding it directly to my tank? FYI….I have a protein skimmer on the new tank. Thanks for your time and response! Mark  >> Hmm, have heard very many nice things about all three of these types of rock... I'd probably first go with the Manono though... And I would "just" cure it in place in the new tank ahead of adding...after about a month (no ammonia, nitrites...) some of your "cleaner-upper" organisms... And I would definitely use the pre-cured product... unless I wanted to spend the same amount of money on water changes, testing, frustration... Bob Fenner

Live Rock Curing in a New Tank Thanks for the advice Bob, I got the Ca++ up to 500 then I brought the Alk up to over 3.8 (my color scale stops there). I left the light off for 24 hours and the algae seemed to stop, I turned on the lights this A.M. and now am seeing more brown algae on the rocks. The rock has only been curing for about a week, if the algae keeps up at this rate the tank will be a mess in six weeks. I am really starting to worry, can you help me settle my fears. I hate the look of all of this brown stuff on my rocks. When can I put some reef janitors in to take care of the algae? Should I just leave the lights off for the next 6 weeks. Thanks again, Rob >> Yes to the purposeful cleaner uppers... and no to leaving the lights off. Do put them back on a "regular" schedule, 10-12 or so hours per day... and stay tuned... your algae succession is soon to diminish your fears. Bob Fenner

live rock Bob, The live rock that FFE advertises is always very colorful! The live rock that I see at any of the local places have very little coralline color, very gray. What is the norm when you purchase live rock? is FFE that good, are they the exception. What should one expect from a reputable outfit? >> Good questions... Live rock is a lot like perishable human foods... trying to make a worthwhile comparative here... It's variable in quality to start with... by region of origin, how it was "picked" and processed, shipped, and handled by your "grocer".  Live rock is the same... some places have much better material than others from the get go... and then there's even a wider spread in quality as it "ages".... Some suppliers offer LR that is just picked up from intertidal flats, stuck in boxes w/o cleaning at all... and then left in the sun, in a shed, waiting for the "B" and less players in the trade to purchase it. The amazing thing is... this "dead rock and muck" is not really that much cheaper to start with... and after you factor in how much time, trouble... sea water, electricity to cure it... lost customers/hobbyists who get wiped out... there really is no savings whatsoever! Thank goodness there are "real" suppliers that know what to do, and do it: Collect and transport the product quickly, wash it off, knock off the large algae, sponges... and rinse it for a few days ahead of shipping. I've said it, written it a bunch of times... and will repeat it here. Not to knock other sources, or just "plug" ffexpress. I know of their principal management and some of their operational staff, and they know what they're doing. I would not be associated with anything other than "A" players in MY industry. Your trust and in turn, care of your livestock are too important to me to do anything other. Bob Fenner

live rock Bob, What type of live rock do you prefer. Am I better off sticking with one type for the reef or is it better to use 2 or 3 different type and which types would you recommend . >> It's not so much the type... really, but how whatever variety you're using has been processed... and what effect you're striving for. However, a few preferences on my part... Unless you're shooting for a biotopic presentation of the tropical west Atlantic, I would leave off with the Florida rock... it's not nearly as suitable as the types out of the South Pacific... And do make a deal to buy in bulk... many places do sell "by the box"... And whatever the labeling states, don't assume your rock is ready to go... cure it yourself... My complete ideas, opinions on the topic are stored in a piece on the www.wetwebmedia.com site... "The Best Live Rock..." an article that ran last year in FAMA. Bob Fenner

Which Rock? Bob, As we have discussed before, I am in the process of setting up a 75 gallon reef (with a built-in overflow) tank with sump and protein skimmer reflecting a Pacific Reef. I will be purchasing my live rock from Flying Fish Express. What live rock would you suggest? Currently I am gravitating towards the Marshall Island, but I am open to suggestions. I plan to "mound" the live rock in the middle of the aquarium like a small island (unless you have a better idea - I do really respect your opinion!). Any suggestions that you may have are greatly appreciated! Thanks! Bob Wrigley >> The Marshall Island product is great and consistent in quality (less bogus companies there)... but I also like the "premium" Fiji and Tonga rock products as well... Am going back out to those two island nations next month... to visit with friends in the trade... come on out with me and pick it out yourself!!! The Marshall Rock is more easily inclined to culture coralline algae... start your algae eating animals soon/the soonest...  Bo

Pago Pago... rocks! Sorry to bother you again, Bob. I have one more QUICK question for you. I was going to take advantage of the sale on Pago live rock, and buy a box from FFExpress. Then I read your article which states "The Best Live Rock: From Fiji." My primary goal with the live rock is to take advantage of it's beneficial effects re: biological filtration and general fish happiness, with it's decorative aspects coming in a distant second. Is the Pago comparable to the Fiji in this regard? Feel free to give a short and time conserving answer, such as "Go with _____ ." Thanks again, Dan "who still has a lot to learn, but is soaking it up like a sponge...)" Gardner >> Never a bother, this is "my passion". And unfortunately don't know much about this Pago rock... and therefore am hesitant to plug or blast it. From what I've seen there is a huge variability in the quality of live rock from all locations, so it may well be that the real difference in general/consistent product types has more to do with the specific individuals/business handling/processing it... Put another way, I have seen great and junk rock from Fiji, the Marshall's, Tonga, Florida, Samoa... and visited many of the sites... to find some operators just pick up the rock and store it in the sun waiting for "shipping day" and others really go through a whole lot of work to chip off organisms that are going to die (kelp, sponges...), clean off muck, mud, rinse the rock to remove worms, check it to make sure there is a given (60% or more) coralline algae growth cover... You get my drift. One plus I can/will mention re ffexpress, is that I know their collecting crew personnel... and they know what they're doing (also, they're building their own facility, but have not visited it as yet... in LA... being built out by RK2 so it should be very nice). If they give you their "seal of approval", I'd believe them, and hold them to it. Bob Fenner

"Going Back to Pago Pago, with an achin' in my Rock" Hi. I've recently bought 45 pounds of Pago live rock from Flying Fish. I hadn't had any before, but there are some corals and fish in my tank. After introducing six pieces of the live rock to the tank five days ago the ammonia level has increased significantly. The rest of the rock was placed in a separate tank and now it gives off bad smell and I hesitate to put it in the tank. Is it the regular process of introducing live rock or I've done something wrong. Thank you.  >> This scenario (both actually) are all too common... and the results of less than cured and/or challenged (through handling and transport) live rock. Do keep your eyes (and nostrils) open, do change the water in your systems if they develop detectable ammonia (0.1ppm and up), and keep your protein skimmers going full blast. Wait till the "separate tank" rock that way till it has cycled... no ammonia, no nitrite... If the rock you already place in your main tank continues to contribute any amount of dangerous ammonia, move it in with the "separate". Bob Fenner, who really wishes all live rock (and sand) came with clear, complete "user" instructions and cautions.... 

Hi Bob thanks for the quick reply. your idea of going to the Marshall Islands first hand is great. I can give you some names of people to contact. Should the wholesalers be more caring of the live rocks? maybe go as far as put it away in a system of clean saltwater. for every hour live rock is kept in its' box. the live part of (live rock) decreases. but week after week rock is inventory like books on a shelf. anyway enough flapping Thanks R.D. Fisher >> All right RD, see you in LA soon. Do wish all live rock product came with heavy duty instructions for its handling, and I know it's unrealistic to hope/pray that the LR would be processed any better at the collection level... but it is sad as a lot of aquarists are lost to troubles with un- and semi cured material.... as I'm sure you'll agree. Bob Fenner

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