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More FAQs about Curing Live Rock 2

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

Related FAQs: Curing Live Rock 1, Curing LR 3, Curing LR 4, Curing LR 5, Curing LR 6, Curing LR 7, Curing LR 8, Ammonia in/and Marine Systems, Live Rock in General, LR Life Identification, Live Rock Selection, Shipping/Moving, Curing Live Rock, Placement, Lighting, Water QualityLive Rock Studies in Fiji Collaboration & Charts, Sumps, RefugiumsFaux Rock,

You may get the beginnings of great things growing on your LR. A "hyacinth" type Acropora and some delightful juvenile Neoglyphidodon and Chromis juveniles.

Live Rock Problem Hi, <<Hello to you.>> I have a 55 gallon tank with a SeaClone protein skimmer an Emperor 400 with 2 powerheads and 2 x 55 w PowerCompact lights. I recently bought 25# of live rock from a LFS and it had green and purple coralline algae on most of it. Over the past couple days it has been losing its color and turning what seems to be white and the rock is also getting lightly coated brown in areas. The LFS said it was fully cured and that I could put it directly in my tank and would not have to cure it. I am not so sure because of my readings. I have been having a problem keeping the temp below 80 even with the air conditioner running all day. <<It's that time of year, but 80 is not worth sweating. It's a fine temp... if only I could get to 80.>> I have had a diatom or I think a diatom breakout starting yesterday. My readings as of this evening are Ammonia 0.25 Calcium 400, Nitrate 0 or 0.25 (Not sure my test kit is hard to determine the closest color) and my PH is 8.2 and my ALK is 3.2. Any suggestions on what is going on? Any comments would be appreciated. Tank has been running about 1 year. <<Well, even the best cured live rock still goes through cycles of life and death. Likewise, the fauna and coralline need to make an adjustment to the chemistry of your tank. I wouldn't be concerned - all your tests look good, but you could take a water sample to the local fish store and get a double-check if you aren't sure. I'm confident that in three or four weeks your coralline will start coming back. Here's an article Bob wrote about live rock: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm >> Thank You, Jim <<Cheers, J -- >>

Liverock Curing and Tapwater Hi folks- I am pouring over your website these days (getting ready for an upgrade to a 125 gal fish only salt tank from a 55). I am going with the live rock this time, from FFE. Your book showed up in the mail yesterday but I have not had a chance to crack it open yet. QUESTION- Is it advisable to use de-chlorinated tap water in my saltwater mix for all of the water changing during the live rock curing process? <Yes, you must de-chlorinate the water all the time.> I have been using water that is run through the Aquarium Pharmaceuticals de-ionizing filter and I am wearing my self out and using up my filter cartridge quite fast. I was wondering if I was over doing it and just wasting time and filters. I usually use this water for the tank water changes. <DI water is better, but not necessary when curing the liverock. Take a look at separate resin DI units. They are rechargeable, so you save a lot of money on replacement filters. You have to be willing and able to deal with some noxious chemicals in the process. Otherwise, get a RO unit. Either will be more cost effective for the 125.> The 45lbs of rock (first batch) are in a 40 gal tub with a powerhead, heater, and a Prizm skimmer. I checked the ammonia about 24 hours after I put the rock in the tub and it was WAY over 5ppm. And I mean way over as in maybe double that. My kit stops at 5ppm. I changed probably 2/3 of the water and that brought it down to around 5ppm so I changed another 5 gallons and called it a night. QUESTION-Is there a good chance that I killed all of the life on the rocks? <There is a good chance that much of the life was already dying, hence the ammonia.> QUESTION- Are there additional things that I should test the water for, other than ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and pH, that would help make my live rock adventure a success? <At this point, no. Later, monitor calcium and alkalinity, too.> I have already given my chocolate-chip star away and my sea urchins. The liverock would be an expensive meal. <Agreed> You all are life savers fish savers). Thanks in advance again. Dennis <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re: Advice for starting curing system  Anthony Calfo here my friend. Steven Pro forwarded your query to me for a shared opinion.    I do indeed have great experience curing live rock having moved moderate to high volumes of reef products as a wholesaler and retail for most of the last decade (moving almost 1000lbs of live rock weekly at the height of it all).    Live rock sales can be a fun and reliable source of income. It certainly is a staple in the industry. My first piece of advice is to not get greedy with profits... enjoy high volume sales and loyal referrals for delivering a good product at a good price.   Some of the critical factors to curing live rock on a large scale include:    VERY aggressive skimming is crucial!!! Two skimmers per system is minimum (cleaned alternately so as to never interrupt skimmate production). Large homemade Nilsen style countercurrent skimmers may be just fine if you need many and cant afford or don't want to invest in quality commercial units. The organics are so high in a curing system as you can imagine that even mediocre skimmers can perform reasonably well. Still... Aqua C is a great brand.    Scrubbing (if necessary) and rinsing live rock on import BEFORE placing in your holding systems is CRUCIAL.    Suspend curing rock off of bottom of tank and move water underneath (allows sediments/particulates to drop).    Very strong water movement can make or break a curing system. No such thing as too much nearly so.    The sand filter proposed is likely to be a big mistake (too fine, too much nitrification... we want organics skimmed out [exported] NOT nitrified=nitrate by a sand or trickle filter.    Plan for at least a two week curing process (and reserve of product in inventory). Some shipments will be ready sooner, some longer.    Little or no light is recommended during curing (reduction of suffocating diatom growths). All plant growth should be scrubbed off on import (as virtually all will rot... but rest assured it will regrow AFTER curing from seemingly nowhere with good water quality, light etc in customers tank. Best regards, Anthony Calfo

Curing Live Rock/Ozone Curious question. Since I know its a good idea to run a skimmer while curing live rock. What about pumping a bit of ozone into the skimmer during the process with one of those small Aquazone (I have one handy). It'll neutralize the ammonia/nitrite immediately. So I guess the benefit is that more organisms/corals that are on the rock will survive since the water conditions are better, but less bacteria will develop. Is that the trade off ? <More of the former benefit, less bacterial generation from decomposition en toto> I guess the basis would be that if you are 'cycling' a tank, you shouldn't do it this way, so you get as much bacteria developed, but if you are just curing rock, then I imagine this would work fairly well ? Am I way off base, or does this sound right ? Thanks <You, one doesn't want "those types, amounts" of microbial activity, pollution if can be easily avoided. Better to utilize the ozonizer, have better water quality through this process. Bob Fenner> Jim

Curing Live Rock with No Protein Skimmer? Bob, <Steven Pro in this morning.> Thanks for the site, after having trawled the net for the past two month it is obviously rendering some great "real-time" service to many fellow keepers. I rejoin the hobby after a break of 25 years and accepted technique seems to have changed/improved a lot! <Glad to welcome you back into the fold.> I have read a lot of your postings and question/answers and learned a great deal but have a question for you re live rock and cycling. I am in the process of setting up a 120g reef tank with wet/dry filter and live rock. I have just received and placed 60 kilos (120 pound?) of what appeared to be good fresh live rock into the tank. No sand at this point. I am using natural seawater and have about 1700 gallons per hour worth of circulation in terms of pumps and powerheads (4). Temp. 25C, PH is 8.2, Ammonia is 5mg/l, Nitrate is 3mg/l, Salinity is 1.025 @ 25deg C. (sorry about the metric). <For all us Americans 77 F.> I bought the rock from the local fish shop, who has been in business for over 25 years, only does marines, and is responsible for some of the most spectacular reef displays I have ever seen. They have told me not to use the protein skimmer or lights for the duration of the cycle (on the basis that the higher the peak goes the more robust the good culture will end up being). Based on what I have read here and elsewhere, and from people I have spoken to, the light issue is under debate but I have never heard anyone else advocate no skimmer? I do want to keep as much as possible alive but also would like my tank to look like any one of his! What are your thoughts? <I would want to remove as much dissolved organic matter (nutrients) as possible and a skimmer is one of the best ways to accomplish this.> When Ammonia/Nitrites get to 0 does this mean the cycle is finished or should I wait to get a consistent 0 for a few weeks on these? <Much better to wait a few weeks just to make sure. Patience is the key to this sometimes frustrating hobby.> Best regards and thanks again for your service, MJP (Sydney, Australia) <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Re-curing live rock-- now what's going on?? Hi Bob, Anthony, Steve, or Jason (did I forget anybody), <<and this time it's.... JasonC, greetings>> I ran this by the WWF and they didn't come up with anything. But I am really puzzled. Here is the thing as briefly as I can manage. :-) I had my 40 lbs of rock in the tank about a year. Then I moved. I put the rock, wrapped it in "chucks", and plastic bags and put it in insulated boxes. Before we put it in the boxes we took off the visible sponges. It was moved with the rest of my stuff and was unfortunately in there about a month. <<ok>> Then I took the stuff out in my friend's garage, put in a 16 gal vat of aged saltwater with a couple power heads, and a Whisper running carbon (and a fake skimmer-- I mean Skilter as the real skimmer won't fit). The SG is about 1.022 and the temp has stayed 75. It has been there about a week. BTW, the stuff wasn't as bad as I thought, nothing terribly ripe and there is some coralline and a few other things apparently growing or remaining on it. The rock was damp, almost wet when I took it. I have been doing frequent small water changes (1 gal or so every couple days). <<so far so good>> Now here is the weird part- Did tests the other day and here are the results: The readings are as follows: pH 8.4 (I have been adding buffer and CA), ammon. .0; nitrites 0 or trace; nitrates 10 (ten)?! Gosh this looks too good! Are my NOs so low because of the water changes? I can't believe it would cycle if it did so fast. (I did water changes because I didn't want really high ammon. to kill everything off.) <<I'm not sure what is so weird about that... You've been hanging around long enough that you've probably read/seen reports of other people cycling tanks with live rock. Likewise, you also know that all live rock doesn't arrive equally. Even though it spent a month in a moving truck, it was well packed, and sounds like it just might have stayed moist enough to maintain some form of life on the rock.>> I can't smell too well since I moved to the desert and don't know if there is hydrogen sulfite or not (I think I would smell something overpowering). <<unless you have lost ALL sense of smell, I think even a small amount of hydrogen sulfide would clear your sinuses, and pop your eyes wide open. The fact that you've found none so far is a good sign, but you might also take a piece of that live rock out of the curing tank and give it a good sniff, up close and personal. Or better yet, con someone else into whiffing the rock and do it like the SNL skit, "Wow, this milk is terrible, smell this!">> I was thinking I would still let it go another month, even if it doesn't read anything bad, before I put fish or critters with it. They'll be in QT anyway. However, the real tank supposedly comes Tues. and I was going to put it in there. <<As would I - it's good to err on the side of caution. You could probably add a snail or two without consequence, and they'd help keep things in check.>> When would it be safe to add a bit more LR to this (I was thinking 15 lbs)?? Would this be ok? <<Add live rock any time you want, and I vote for 'right now'. They would most likely seed each other, and the skimmer-thing you have will help in removing die-off-gunk if the rock you add is a little past its prime. If I were you, I'd put that larger skimmer to work on this project and be a little more aggressive about adding/curing more live rock. It's not really so delicate that you need to watch every step.>> --des/Jane <<Cheers, J -- >>

Live Rock Hi, <Cheers, my friend. Anthony Calfo in your service> Hope you can help.  <that makes two of us <smile>> I'm in the process of starting a 25 gallon salt water tank with fish and invertebrate. This is my first time. One month ago I introduced 20 pounds of live rock which has just cycled. The Ammonia levels and nitrate levels have already gone down. I've recently started seeing white spots appear on the rock a couple of weeks ago. Now the white spots are growing and are beginning to cover the rocks completely. The substance is not slimy. It looks more like a hard deposit that I would have to scrape off to remove. All of my live rock is starting to look like this. Is the rock dying?  <not likely... just the coralline algae bleaching a bit from the shock of import or perhaps you have very low calcium or alkalinity levels (did you use unbuffered distilled or RO water to start, or is your tap water naturally soft). At any rate... do get test kits out to test for calcium (target 350-450 ppm) and alkalinity (target 12 dKH). These numbers are not writ in stone...just ballparks> I haven't checked the calcium levels either so I'm not sure if that is the problem. Please let me know if you have any insight. I have two small clown fish in the tank so hope the rock isn't going to hurt them. <I suspect that they will be fine> Thank You, Ralph <always welcome. Anthony>

Live Rock Hey guys, I just got a shipment of precured <Allegedly> Fiji live rock from FFexpress. My question is this: should I try to keep ammonia levels down while I cure the rock or just let nature take its course? I have heard varying reports which say leave it alone until ammonia and nitrite are 0 while others have said to do frequent water changes to keep ammonia down. What is your opinion? <I prefer to do the water changes and skim hard to attempt to save as much life as possible.> Also, would it be safe to put a few small pieces in my main tanks immediately or should I wait? <No, you should wait.> Thanks, Jeff <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Burrowing worms in Live Rock I searched thought the FAQ as best I could, I apologize if the answer to my question was in there and I missed it. <we appreciate you trying... much additional information to be learned in the process :) > My Tank (75 gal Marine) has been set up for almost a year and tonight I noticed something a little strange. I looked up at the tank and noticed a small cloud of white smoke drifting past one of my "live" rocks. The cloud was about 3" in size. I got closer and watched the rock to see if I could tell where the mystery smoke had come from. A few seconds later, a small white worm with a head about an 1/8th to 1/16th of an inch across with the head slightly darker than the body introduced himself. The little sucker came out of the rock about 1/2 of an inch, proceeded to "produce" a large white cloud of smoke (I think from his mouth, but am afraid to think of where else it could have come from unless it came out of his "hole" as a result of him "popping" his head out),  <too many jokes in this line...hehe. I'll leave well enough alone and thank you just same for it> just as quick he "retracted" back into the rock. I know non descript worm questions are pretty high on your list for a good laugh but I am hoping you might have a guess I could follow up on to do some research on my own. One of your many thousands of adoring fans, Brian Alster <no worries at all, my friend. A good question indeed. There are an incredible number of species or marine still yet undescribed. Some say this is one of the best fields for a young taxonomist to make a name in. As it applies to you... the unnamed worm is simply one of the many burrowing organisms in scleractinian live rock that is harmless and interesting if nothing else. A compliment to the diversity of your ecosystem. You may also find echinoderms and mollusks that do the same. Best regards, Anthony Calfo>

Clean Rock Wanted: Dead or Alive JasonC or Robert: <<JasonC this time...>> When you say to clean your cured live rock with freshwater when you receive it if it is too stinky... <<Did I say this? I suppose if it was stinky, then it wouldn't matter what you washed it with.>> does this mean: 1.) tap water 2.) tap water treated w/ Novaqua 3.) tap water treated w/ Novaqua and buffered ph to 8.3 <<I'll take door number three, but if I could, I'd add a fourth door: 4) Premixed salt water, lower SPG is ok 1.018 - 1.020. Again, if the rock fauna is well dead, then fresh or salt won't matter. If this is a nice, primo chunk of live rock, rinse it in clean salt water. Cheers, J -- >>

Adding live rock to new system G'Day bob, <G'day, mate... Anthony Calfo in your service> my 500ltr tank has been running for about 1 week and I was after your opinion on whether to put LR in it now (to help cycle) or to let it cycle on its own before adding LR. I can get good quality cured LR with lots of coralline algae, <fully cured live rock would be quite helpful to the early cycle of an aquarium system... do keep up with alkalinity and free calcium levels to nurture that lovely coralline algae> I was thinking of adding about 5 kilo's of it I already have some base (Tufa) rock in my tank not live yet). my lighting consists of 1-40w Coralife actinic ,1-36w 10000k Coralife marine white ,3 - 36w arcadia marine whites, tank is 500mm deep. <do you have any idea how tough it is for an American to do these metric conversions in the head to understand the figures <wink>? Do you really mean 500mm, or is it really 50mm (~2 inches)?> would this lighting be sufficient to keep the coralline algae alive and will it spread to the base rock I have. Yes on both counts, the latter dependant on sufficient calcium AND alkalinity supplementation> I was also going to add some Caulerpa algae to the tank, will this interfere with the coralline algae out compete it ) <some competition... but do enjoy it in small portions (don't let it get wild)> will the Caulerpa algae survive the cycling period. <likely no.. do wait for completion> I don't intend to keep inverts ,only fish. thanks for your help, the website has been an valuable tool and a lot of help, keep up the great work. rob <best regards, Anthony>

live rock in new tank Hi Bob, <You got Steven Pro working his shift today.> I've been reading through your site and found it immensely helpful. Yet a couple questions linger...here's where I'm at. (please forgive my wordiness.) We were just given a friend's old setup: a 125gal tank, roughly 100lbs live rock, protein skimmer and a wet/dry filter. Sadly, the stand needed to be redone before it could be used again. It took about a week but it's now done. The live rock was wrapped in wet newspaper for transport and since then has been in aerated, room-temperature saltwater, that I've done partial changes on a couple times a week. The live rock was in an established tank for a couple of years, with only the skimmer running. As they've sat, 1" worms have fallen out, but everything else looks okay...I hope. So here's what I'm wondering: (1) How bad off am I already? Will the live rock be okay? <Sounds ok. Would have been better to heat the water. Room temperature is a bit cool, but everything should be fine.> (2) Is it okay to put the live rock into the new, uncycled tank, along with some damsels and let it all go forward to cycle? <Leave out the damsels.> (3) After reading your articles, I'm thinking I can just run the skimmer and skip the wet/dry. Am I right? I've seen you recommend running it during the initial cycling to assist that, can I skip that part? To run the wet/dry, I'll need to go buy bio-balls and I'd love to avoid the expense. :-) <Yes, you can leave out the wet/dry. It is possible to filter a tank with just liverock.> (4) I've also seen that you recommend adding some new live-rock to spur growth. Should I do this at the beginning of the cycle or wait until the cycle is complete? <I would wait until the old rock has a chance to cycle and then you may want to add a few new pieces of fully cured liverock to seed new growth and organisms.> Thanks in advance for your help, and for the wealth of info available on your site! John <You are quite welcome. -Steven Pro>

Wild Live rock Hello again! <Anthony Calfo in your service this time, friend> I find it really terrific that I can get a really good piece of advice from someone who is at the other side of the ocean! (thanks!). <a marvel of modern technology indeed... it never ceases to amaze me too> Well, my first question today concerns live rock. I have been discussing with two shop-keepers in my city (in fact they own te only two "serious" shops that exist in my city) about the question if I can get a piece of rock full of plants directly from the sea (which is not difficult fro me) and put it in my aquarium.  <Aieeeee!!!!! never, please...to dangerous!> The first one says that this can be done under the condition that the rock should be put in sea water with Myxazin for some hours (how many really?) in order to avoid carrying any kind of bacteria or parasites into my aquarium.  <I disagree... this will kill of too many desirable microorganisms and still may not be strong enough to kill hitch-hiking pests or predators (crab, worms, shrimp, etc)> The second shop-owner is telling me not to try to do something like that, because it would be too dangerous for the health of my aquarium. <agreed... you can do it, but the piece should be held in a separate quarantine tank for 2-4weeks where most pathogens will die without a host and any predators can be lured out with meaty bait attempted periodically... keep good lights is plant covered too> The same person is telling me on the other hand that I can carry water from the sea and put it in my aquarium during the water-changes. I am really confused. What is your opinion? <It is dangerous indeed... I wouldn't use untreated fresh seawater (especially from the shoreline!!!) even if it were free and someone carried it for me. The natural plankton can be a boon or scourge seasonally...too risky> Second question: is it worth having a live rock, taking into account that I have two tangs?  <much live rock is very beneficial as food and filtration and more> Especially the Lineatus is eating a lot of algae wherever he finds it. Won't he eat all the plants and green from the live rock at once? <yes...but that is good for him... you may want to consider culturing some rock/plants in another aquarium> I can not create green algae (I only have brown) even if I increased my lighting to 14 hours daily.  <bad move... you don't need extra lights, you need to cut back on nutrients (causing the brown algae) by skimming better, perhaps feeding less or more carefully, chemical filtration, etc. Then algal succession will take its natural course and green microalgae will establish. Extended bouts of brown algae are a definite sign of deficient nutrient export processes> I want it in order to reduce the Nitrates (too high!).  <again... perhaps you are overfeeding the tank, or maybe you need a better protein skimmer (or a second one)> Is there any practical and sufficient way to reduce my Nitrates? Which one do you think is the more efficient? <simple water changes and protein skimming with careful fish feeding works for most folks. Deep sand bed technology (over 3" of sugar-fine aragonite sand) works very well for denitrification for most others> Thanks again, Thanassis Thessaloniki, Greece <very welcome, overseas friend. Anthony Calfo>

RE: bugs? thanks for a very prompt response ... about those "coral-like" things ... I am fearing Aiptasia! Right now there are only two or three and they are no larger than the size of a small nail head, and when I noticed them I thought they were just a bonus of the live rock. But now I fear for the worst. <Take a look here for a picture of the Aiptasia http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aiptasia.htm There is also info there on ridding your tank of them.> I haven't even put a single invert in there. This is the sixth day since the tank has been installed. Like I said, there is great growth of all algae. Can I put some inverts in yet ... or how long should I wait? <Try to be patient. It will take about one month for your ammonia and nitrite levels to rise and fall back to zero. Please begin reading as much as you can on curing liverock, cycling a tank, etc. at the WWM site and try to get Bob's book "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist".> thanks much! Ari <Welcome to the hobby. -Steven Pro>

RE: bugs? thanks again for writing ... thank the lord that what I've got isn't Aiptasia. Don't know what it is but at least it's not that.  <Aiptasia are only a problem in tanks with organic particulates (overfeeding/misfeeding/poor skimming, etc) sufficient enough to feed a blooming population...in tanks with strict nutrient export processes they sit for months and never divide> I found out from my dealer (Old Town Aquarium -- Chicago) that the live rock is Fiji live but was in one of their owners' tanks for a couple of years, so it's got all sorts of stuff still growing on it.  <sounds very nicely cured indeed> As a matter of fact, when I got it there were two mushroom corals and I thought they were dead. This morning they were fleshy again and look to be coming back, so I guess that's just another bonus!!! We'll see what else this live rock delivers.  <wonderful!> Thanks again and I'll get the book. Basically at this point I've printed out every FAQ available on the site. Needless to say, I haven't done this much reading since college.  <cool, but I hope you are smoking and drinking less> I guess having the reef tank is an ongoing final exam. Your site is great ... thanks so much for the information. This makes pursuing the hobby much more fun and access to experts like you is an invaluable resource. Best, Ari <our pleasure...best of luck in your endeavors. Anthony Calfo>

Post-copper removal/live rock/wet dry Hello various WWM gents: <Howdy> Started this conversation w Steven last week (?). Read more (CMA, Natural Reef Aquariums by Tullock/Moe, the wet/dry and live rock and refugium FAQs here). Still have a question: (here goes) thinking of adding a RS butterfly (Heniochus or paucifasciatus) and a Centropyge multispinis to my 55 gal to keep my purple tang company. there is also a juv. 3.5 " fu Manchu lion) and complete my RS theme. <Mmm, actually, this tank is or will be too small for either of these chaetodonts or the Angel... any chance of a larger system in your near future?> No LR in system at the moment. Have read that both the butterfly and the dwarf angel will do better with some LR in addition to the 35 -40 lbs of rock/coral skeletons currently in place.  <Yes> Have also read that F/O systems don't need LR (too many opinions...) <No, just the right amount of opinions... at any number. They are, after all, "just opinions"> Had some ich when I first set up the tank on 1 of my cycling damsels (and yes, Steven, there are still 2 there, Fu Manchu is eating dead meals for the moment) and treated with copper. Removing it (trying...) from the system now using PolyFilter and this gravel-looking stuff from my LFS which is in a bag in the sump of my wet/dry called "Metal-Gone". (how long does this process "typically" take anyway???) <Hours to days. The added live rock will actually help in the copper removal> 'K.. now we finally get to the question (s): 1) do I have to tear out all the aragonite (sp) substrate and the skeletons/other rock before adding the LR once this PolyFilter and metal gone stuff "does its' stuff"? <No. If the copper concentration is low (less than 0.01 ppm let's say) no problem in just adding the LR> 2) I am planning on getting Walt Smith cured Fiji from one of your sponsors (you know who it is :) ). They have a special on the 45 lb box at the moment. I'm thinking of putting 35 ish lbs of this in the tank and taking my bioballs out of the wet/dry with the rest (more biological bang for my LR buck??). Good idea or no? <Good idea> 3) If I do this, can I take all the balls out at once (read various procedures)? The rock goes in where the balls were and has the water from the system trickle over them, correct? (again, the comment on one of the FAQs about the only dumb ? being the one that is unasked in this hobby). <Can likely pull all at once... but for general purposes I'd place all in a bag or even loose where they can be removed for a few weeks while the rock is re-curing> 4) Do I need to have lights down there (read the refugium sections and got confused slightly)? <It is better to have lighting... can be regular output fluorescents... about the best current technology are the "Lights of America" small compacts available at Home Depot, other such outlets> 5) and, lastly, can I add it all at once (whether it all goes above or it goes above and below). ? <Can be placed, re-cured by either approaches> Much thanks as always, Rebecca <Your study is obvious. Do go ahead, with your best understanding. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock addition Hi Bob; <<Hello, not Bob but JasonC doing a cameo while visiting with Bob in sunny San Diego.>> I frequently read you wetwebmedia and flying fish information. I am adding 20 lbs. of live rock to an existing 55 gallon twin-hex tank. I recently went through a bad spell of ich but have come through it with two fish intact (1 blue damsel and 1 yellow tang). <<glad to hear this.>> I was wondering if I would be able to cure the live rock in the tank as opposed to doing it in a garbage can for a few weeks. <<I wouldn't recommend it, the garbage can route is the better way to go.>> I have a CPR 192 filter system on the tank, and I would do the high SG bath on the rock before I put it in the tank. <<the high-salinity bath will insure that the rock you put in the tank will in turn foul the system as it cures, and most likely take your surviving fish out at the same time.>> Any advice would be appreciated. <<Think seriously about pre-curing the rock yourself. The garbage can idea is quite solid, and well worth the time. Cheers, J -- >> Thanks.

Not So Cured...Cured Live Rock Hi Robert, <Salute, amico! Anthony Calfo here in your service while Bob flies back to Michigan to make angels in the snow...naked> Recently I bought 50lbs of live rock from a whole sale place. <good things are seldom cheap, and cheap things are seldom good> I had the guy cure it for me right after he took it out of the box. He cured it only for 3 days. I brought it home after those 3 days and put it in my tank. Now my level of Ammonia and nitrite are really high, lost of course a yellow tang and my fish are stressed. <case in point. I'd like to say that I believe that your dealer made an honest mistake, but I suspect that there was nothing honest about that. I have handled over 50,000 pounds of live rock as a wholesaler and retailer in the past decade and can tell you that fresh rock takes longer than three days to cure, and you can smell when it isn't...hehe> I see some white stuff on the rocks growing. <decay/bleaching benthic fauna... please siphon off daily for 5-14 days. Work your skimmer like a horse for the next few months or you will have an outrageous nuisance algae bloom> Am I on the process of curing the rock instead of the guy doing it for me? <yes... and if the ammonia is high enough (over .5ppm) consider removing it to a well circulated tank/plastic can to finish the process away from fish> Also, how long will it take for me before my ammonia and nitrite levels go down? <should occur with 14 days... more likely within a week unless you really got taken> I have a 60 gallon tank. Am I supposed to clean the white stuff (looks like cotton) off of the rock? <yes, sir. as above... maintain excellent circulation, protein skimming and frequent water changes as necessary to keep chemistry safe> Thanks, Sam... <my apologies for being the messenger, bud. Have faith that there are more good guys out there and keep on truckin'. Kind regards, Anthony>

Not-So-Cured Rock Hi Anthony, <greetings, Ms Rita. Anthony Calfo in your service as always> First of all I'd like to thank you for the quick response. I've already lost a couple of fish already and all I have right now is the damsels. <I'm very sorry... its hard enough with good information. How dreadful with misinformation> You've given me enough information now I guess for me to take care of the rock. <very good... my best to you tending that matter> I don't really have containers laying down so I'll probably end up curing the rock in my tank. I'm planning on taking the rocks one by one and rinsing them in high salinity water and maybe scrub off the white stuff as well. <excellent. Labor intensive, but combined with good water changes, carbon and protein skimming...all will be well soon.> Thanks again Sam <good chatting with you, Anthony>

Curing Live Rock Bob, great info on your website.  <Anthony Calfo...of zoanthid eating fame... here in your service> I am cycling a 150 reef tank. It's been running about four weeks. I have two inches of live sand <Yikes! Danger Will Robinson! Two inches is dangerous in the long run: not deep enough to be aerobic, but too deep to become anoxic for denitrification. Add some sand to get over 3 inches (preferably towards 5") or reduce to less than 1/2 inch> and just added about 60 lbs of live rock.  <a good investment in your tank's health> The guys at the LFS told me not to do any water changes until it has cycled. <ehhhhh...depends on how bad the chemistry gets and how much life on the rock you are willing to lose. They did not do you a service by selling you uncured live rock. I hope it was very inexpensive.> Ammonia and Nitrates are very high. I am concerned that they are so high things will dye on the rock, making them higher.  <yes... water changes and very aggressive protein skimming (1-2 cups daily of skimmate)> As you know, rock in expensive and I don't want dead rock. Can I do small water changes? Jim Schaefer <almost no such thing as too many water changes...at your discretion. Best regards, Anthony>

Mail-Order Cured Liverock? (Steve) I have a few questions about re-curing live rock. I stumbled on to your web-site on accident and since I have put it on the favorites list. I know now just by reading your answers to several other peoples questions that I'll get a straight answer. I have just purchased 45lbs of pre-cured live rock from ffexpress (sat morning) I have it in a separate 40 gallon tank in my basement. I have a Rio 600 and a Fluval 404 canister filter on the tank just for water movement. I tested the water this morning for ammonia and ph. The ph is at 7.7 which is low to me, the ammonia is at a dangerously high 5.0, and the water is very cloudy, is this expected? <Yes it is expected.> The Fluval has not been used for months so I am also wondering if I should put all of the filter media back into it (consisting of porcelain bio media, a few carbon packs). <Do put some carbon in the Fluval, but more importantly begin doing several massive water changes immediately. The longer the live portion of the rock is exposed to these conditions, the more of it that is going to die.> The temp is at about 74 degrees and I have a protein skimmer on the way. Any answers to these questions, or concerns in general would be very helpful. <Do get the skimmer working ASAP and you should probably raise the temperature to at least 78. -Steven Pro> Thanks! -Russell

Pre-cured Live Rock? (Anthony) <Anthony Calfo here trying to drown my sorrows on the keyboard in the wake of the AFC NFL championship game> I have a few questions about re-curing live rock. I stumbled on to your web-site on accident and since I have put it on the favorites list. I know now just by reading your answers to several other peoples questions that I'll get a straight answer. <at times brutally honest...<smile>> I have just purchased 45lbs of pre-cured live rock from ffexpress (sat morning) I have it in a separate 40 gallon tank in my basement. <excellent idea and absolutely necessary> I have a Rio 600 and a Fluval 404 canister filter on the tank just for water movement. <please add a skimmer in addition to the set up... so important that I'd pick it over the Fluval if I had too> I tested the water this morning for ammonia and ph. The ph is at 7.7 which is low to me, the ammonia is at a dangerously high 5.0, <both extremely dangerous to the health of the rock> and the water is very cloudy, is this expected?  <yes, when you get seriously uncured rock or rock that has been delayed in transit or exposed to extremes> The Fluval has not been used for months so I am also wondering if I should put all of the filter media back into it (consisting of porcelain bio media, a few carbon packs).  <would certainly help, but will waste carbon in the early stages. What you need is aggressive protein skimming and water changes for the first week... then add carbon for the second week. Most rock is cured by 14 days (or you got really bad rock). Adding some buffer to keep you remotely close to even 8.0 would be nice. I hope it was cheap...> The temp is at about 74 degrees and I have a protein skimmer on the way.  <ahhh, yes. The sooner the better!> Any answers to these questions, or concerns in general would be very helpful. thanks! Russell <best regards, Anthony>

also (another referral for LR curing) Do I need to use my sump filter for curing my live rock in my large Rubbermaid container or should I use just the protein skimmer. thanks <A particulate filter is good to use in addition, as well as testing, ready water for changes, addition of biomineral, alkaline reserve... Please read: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm and beyond. Bob Fenner>

White powdery looking stuff? <<JasonC here helping out while Bob is away diving.>> Mr. Fenner- I am hoping you can help me out. I have noticed a white powdery looking substance growing on my live rock over the last 3-4 weeks. It seems to target the coralline algae. During this time frame I have lost all three of my damsels that I had in the tank to cycle. However I did pick up a yellow Tang two week ago and he seems to be fine. All levels are good. The tank is 72 gallon with about 100 lbs of live rock. I am more concerned because it looks like this white stuff is covering up or maybe even killing the purple & red coralline algae that I have. I have noticed it seem to have been spreading slowly but definitely spreading. None of the local store knows what this may be. Please let me know what you think this is and what I can do to prevent it. I am afraid all my live rock may be going bad. Thanks Ron <<Well, sometimes when you cycle a tank with live rock, even if the rock is well cured, you end up curing the live rock a second time - and that's what sounds like happened. If this is the case, then the white slime is probably some organic mater decomposing on the rock - sounds tasty doesn't it. This is probably also the item that killed your damsels - ammonia overload from live rock cure and nowhere for ammonia/ium to go in a new tank. Give it some more time and things should level off, and may already have if the tang is really doing well. Do try blasting the rocks with a powerhead or something and see if you can clean the white stuff off. As for the coralline, that stuff is algae so make sure your calcium is where it needs to be and it will come back. Cheers, J -- >>

hey (curing live rock) I was considering Curing my own live rock, because a lot of the time you lose organisms and creatures when stores do it <Yes... plus it's often much cheaper... and much more interesting to "see what develops"...> So I was wondering if u had advice on the best way to Cure my own liverock like the equipment like lighting and the other essentials to it! thanks <Posted here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm Bob Fenner>

new rock I just received 45 lbs and I read your page on it. My first question is should, could, not needed or not advisable to use a canister filter and just stick with the skimmer, heater and powerheads. <I would use the canister, "loosely packed" (perhaps without Dacron/fine "wool" at all) with coarse mechanical media, carbon> The second, there was about two pounds of rubble in the box could that be used or not worth the trouble to deal with? <Good for sump use... even in the tank if not "too ugly"... can even make into home-made "grunge" by smacking with hammer... I would use it> Finally the last. I will be using aragonite for the floor should I wait for the cycle to end to add it or put it in when it comes?  <I would cycle it right along with your new rock... many organisms will leave the latter, infuse the aragonite.> Again thank you for your time <Good questions, well-worded. Bob Fenner>

Re: LR powder I'm Back!! I bought 12 1/2 pounds of Caribbean Live Rock for my tank about 2 1/2 weeks ago. I have been doing 3 gallon water changes weekly. Every thing seems to be doing fine. There are no manta shrimp or bristle worms that I know of (yeaaa). About a week after I put in the LR I noticed that there was gray powdery stuff on the tops and piling on the sides of the LR in a few spots. What is it?  <Left over bits of not-so-live portions of the rock> What would cause it? What do I do (if anything)? <Nothing to "do" other than routine maintenance, testing... and dusting off this material with a powerhead, vacuum... Bob Fenner. Thanks! John

Cured Live Rock Dear Bob, I've read your LR FAQ's and more LR FAQ's. I followed your advice and bought 45 lbs pre-cured Fiji LR from FFExpress to cope with our high nitrate problem. I started a protein skimmer in the main tank too. I'm re-curing the LR in another 25 gallon tank. Got 1 powerhead and an Emperor 280 filter with Biowheel. Here's my summary of what I gleaned from your advice (and my follow-up questions). <Good to have this feedback> 1. Light is good during curing 2. Protein skimming is a good idea--can we get by without it?  <A qualified yes. Most, the vast majority of systems, live rock curing tanks greatly benefit from such a tool... can often be shut off/removed in balanced systems... in a few to several months> We want to keep our skimmer on the main tank. 3. Water changes are a good idea--our ammonia spiked after a day and is still off the chart. How often should we be changing the water and how much?  <At one-two ppm should change... possibly use baking soda to retain alkalinity, some high sevens' pH...> Will the high ammonia kill off parasites like mantis and other nasties? <Not as much as we'd like> 4. Add buffers and calcium 5. Remove dying sponges and macroalgae 6. Once cycled, add all the rock to the main aquarium at once--other times you say to add it gradually. I have a tang, 4 damsels, and a cleaner shrimp I don't want to disturb. With that high level of ammonia, I really don't want to add ANY to the tank yet. <Can add gradually> 7. Don't dip in high salinity dip before introducing to main tank. It doesn't remove mantis shrimp.--so do you have any pictures or details of what pests we should remove?  <Lots, but none that is posted... waiting on publication first...> Is the detection of these organisms, mainly visual inspection or are there traps for mantis shrimp etc? <Plenty of traps: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/mantisshrimp.htm and the FAQs beyond> Did I miss anything? <Not much> Regarding the protein skimmer and intermittent ick: We bought an AquaC to help with die-off of LR in main tank. They recommend higher salinity to get it to work (at least 1.022--I know it's a good level anyway). Our fish are prone to ick and we've managed with the lower salinity-high temp you suggest. The cleaner shrimp won't clean the little damsels--just the big tang. Every time we try to inch up the salinity, they get ick (and they've got it now). I'm hoping that if we get the nitrates down, we'll be OK but we're stuck until we get that LR in there. Will lowered nitrates cure the ick or will we have to choose between effective skimming and low salinity to cope with the ick? <Mmm, likely will/should help, but cure? Will have to wait/see. Unlikely to eradicate entirely... more like more balance in your favor... Compare with keeping warm, good nutrition, genes, luck in avoiding accidents, positive outlook with likelihood of succumbing to cold/flus... Have you read the "Three Sets of Factors..." on the WWM site? You'd benefit.> This is such a complex, interactive system/hobby! <And intriguing, beautiful and wondrous one as well. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Allyson

Re: Lighting Hello again, I have a few more questions to ask of you, if you don't mind. I read on your web site about curing LR. It was very informative! I don't have means to cure LR in a separate tank or container with a protein skimmer and a powerhead. Would it be OK to add 1 or 2 rocks at a time to cure them in my tank? <Yes> Then once the ammonia and PH levels even out and do some water changes, then add some more LR? Would I have to put in a power head for LR or is it only for corals? <More circulation, aeration is good for both/all> Thanks again for the info!! I'm sure I will back with more questions!!! John <Be chatting, and studying my friend. Bob Fenner>

old/used live rock What is the best/easiest way to cure old used live rock? <Posted on the site: http://wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm> I have some rock that has been out of a tank about 4 days now and is covered in hair algae. The person was going to throw it away, but I got a hold of it first. I do not currently have a tank up and running that I can use the rock in, but I will in the future. Is it ok to let it sit in water and change it periodically?  <Hmm, for how long? If only a few days, weeks, fine... better to be in a "real tank" situation, with filtration, circulation, lighting...> The need for tiny animals on it is minimal since it will go in a fish only setup. Please help! Thanks you are the best!!! <Mmm, for FO use only... would leave out, let air dry, rinse off before use myself. Bob Fenner>

Help! (LR curing questions) Hi Bob -- I have been reading your FAQ's on Live Rock / Curing and Lighting and thought that perhaps you would be kind enough to lend me some advice. <I will try> I have a 75gal tank, which I am in the process of setting up (again) and really want to get it right this time. Based upon what I have read, I am using live rock this go round instead of skeleton. My setup is as follows 75gal -- using RO/DI water 1 power head about 5-6 inches down Wet/dry without bioballs (removed as I understand you don't use them with live rock) <Maybe at first... to help establish nutrient cycling...> this also provides a good current in the return Protein Skimmer Sterilizer (not running, again, I understand they are not used with live rock) <Can be> 96watt 6700k 36in Power Compact light 75lbs live rock I was told the rock was pre-cured, but currently have it in the tank running lights 10-11 on then off 13-14 with only the rock in it. I was initially told to set the rock up as final and then vacuum up the die off and put in live sand. Now, they are telling me to remove the live rock, do a 100% water change and then put in the live sand. <Hmm, I'd stick with your original plan at this point... not necessary to take out, place the LS... what is there has been made live via the live rock> This is confusing to me, as I would expect that a 100% water change will break the cycle. <Too likely, yes> What is your recommendation regarding this... do I need to pull the live rock out and clean it? The first week or so, it had good color, now the pinks are turning whitish and there seems to be quite a bit of algae, mainly brown on the rock and tank sides. <I'd leave it as is... Please see the Live Rock, Curing... FAQs on our site: http://wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm> Also, do you think that the lighting is adequate? <Yes, should be fine> I am not planning on a reef, but would like a cleanup crew to control the algae. What are the lighting requirements there? <None especially. What gear, interval you have is fine> My water is running 78-80 degrees and I am concerned that more lighting will overheat the tank. I'm sorry to be so lengthy, but I'm about to give up here and am looking for a glimmer of hope! Thanks in advance for your help and advice! D <A pleasure my friend. Bob Fenner>

curing uncured live rock Bob, I bought 55lbs of live rock from a wholesaler. Fiji rock that is. Its not cured. I have the rocks in a 20 gal. plastic garbage container. Its been a week now, and I change the water in the container every 3-4 days. The problem is that I don't have an extra heater nor a protein skimmer. Will it still be ok to cure it this way?  <Maybe... have you read over the LR curing FAQs pages on the WWM site? Do so: http://wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm> The water in the container is a golden brown color. With a pretty bad smell. Will it still cure even though I don't have a protein skimmer plus heater? Thanks <You should run a skimmer... I'd likely pull one off my main system, or risk moving the rock, rinsed... to the main system... Are you testing for water quality... Study my friend. Bob Fenner>

RE: nitrates high! Dear Bob, OK now I'm REALLY confused. I quote you from the site you referred us to: "by using a typical wet-dry you will find a surplus of nitrates produced... and need to find ways to rid the system of the same... Instead, more "balanced" filtration approaches like using live rock, macroalgae, a mud sump... won't." Where do you describe the "mud sump"?  <Oh... let's see... do need to write a complete "piece" about these... How about here: http://wetwebmedia.com/mudfiltrfaqs.htm Please read through these FAQs and use the Google search feature on our site (WetWebMedia) with the words "mud", "sump", refugium, Leng Sy...> Isn't our crushed coral what they call a deep sand bed that has denitrifying bacteria? <If deep enough, not too-circulated, depending on grade, composition...> Would rustling through it disrupt this even if there is detritus in it? <Yes, to some degree> Everything I read said the trickle, while expensive, was the safest way to go (aside from a totally LR system).  <The "safest" way to go about what? Live aquatic closed-system filtration? Depends on many qualifying criteria, but not the "safest".> If we remove the BioBale, how will the ammonia be broken down?  <By nitrifiers elsewhere in the system... once going (cycled) there are plenty> How will LR do anything different from the BioBale? What's the best course to transition? <All this posted on our site... Please read: http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm  and beyond in the "Curing LR" FAQs sections> Last night, we vacuumed out a huge amount of black gunk under the bio-bale. Hopefully we did not kill any helpful bacteria (or that gunk wasn't anaerobic bacteria). Nitrates are still sky high. I'm reluctant to change much more water since it's now approaching 50% in 3 days. <Not clear to me here... what is approaching fifty percent?> If we go out and buy lots of cured LR, won't a lot of that die in the transition and make matters worse? <Some die off, but likely no problem.> Then, we REALLY need a protein skimmer, right? Even, then, isn't that too traumatic? <Do you not have a skimmer currently? You very likely would/will benefit from ones use> In answer to your light question, our light is 4x20 watts (2 actinic, 2 full spectrum). Can LR survive OK on that? <Yes> We planned to be fish only (except our hermit and cleaner shrimp). It gets hot and we did not want to go metal halide/chiller. <Do try at least "some" live rock... you will not be disappointed I assure you> I can't seem to find a place that sells macroalgae. Where do you get that stuff. I've been hearing about some Caulerpa ban??? Regardless, I'm sure our little tang would love to snack on it. <Do check with the e-tailers posted on the WWM Links Pages> You just can't win. Sorry to always be so discouraged. Even if our system crashes, it has be 8 months of happiness (in between the crises). Thanks, Allyson <Ah my friend. You are on the brink of clarity. Do keep your eyes on the prize and study. Bob Fenner>

tank cycle Bob Sorry to bother you again but I need some reassurance. As I have told you before and I am sure you remember (LOL) I have decided to upgrade my 46 gal reef to a 135. I put all my fish and corals in a 20 gal and around 50 lbs. of live rock from the 46 gal tank into the 135. I then ordered 120 lbs. of rock from Walt smith. It took around 6 days to get the rock. When I received the rock I rinsed it off and put it into my tank. 4 days later my nitrates are sky rocketing they are around 50. I do not have anything in the tank and I know that this is part of the cycling process. I just need to know if there is anything I need to do and how long this should take. How much light do I need to keep on the rock should I do a water change etc. Thanks for your help. <Please read over the materials stored on Live Rock, its curing... posted on our site. Please look starting here: http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm and the associated FAQs pages, and those on nitrate... Bob Fenner> Jason P.S. I hope all is well with you and your family since the tragedy in NY and DC. <Still very perturbed... as I'm sure many in the world are.>

Whitish Hairy rock growth...? Hi Bob, I may not be following conventions, but I welcome any an all opinions about my current setup you may have in addition to the reason I'm writing... Thanks. <Okay> I am currently cycling ~110lbs of live Fiji rock in my 55gal with about 2" of aragonite (40lbs) on the bottom, a Remora protein skimmer, Eheim canister filter, two 279gph powerheads, heaters keeping the water around 75F, and an 8 hour photoperiod with a single 10000K 175W MH pendant [only begun within the last two days]. I'm having a bigger skimmer custom built at my LFS, and I plan to return both the Remora and the Eheim to my friend as soon as I receive the unit. The display tank is drilled and empties into a 20gal tank I'm using as a sump (about 1/3 full). I have a Rio2100 as a return pump. <Lots of gear... and hard to cure this much live rock in a fifty five generally...> I really goofed (in hindsight) by putting the sand in, and then not properly rinsing the rock before placing it in the tank (I've never cured live rock before, and there seem to be so many conflicting schools of thought on the web about how such is best accomplished ). <Ah, yes...> My excuse is that my supplier shipped the product to me much earlier than expected, and I hadn't completely plumbed my tank when I received it--I was in a panic to get the rock into water. I've since nearly restarted the curing process after dumping 90% of the water (vacuuming the gunk off the top of the sand) and properly rinsing the rock in the same process. The ammonia was out-of-control, and I'd wasted too much salt already doing water changes in the first 3 days. <I'm bobbing my head up and down like an old Beatles doll in the back of a 55 Chevy with no shocks> I am not aware of any complex organisms existing in the system. The tank is now clearing and my NH3 readings are ~1.5ppm (pH 8.2, and not registering N02 and NO3 levels [probably because of near complete water change]); however, I've noticed a new growth in some of the rock crevices of a whitish, diaphanous, hairy-looking nature that I am totally incapable of identifying. I had initially guessed a form of algae (because of its coincident appearance following the addition of light), but I can't find any that fit the description. Will you help me? <Unfortunately I probably can... these are colonies of decomposers... fungus, actinomycetes... that will be supplanted in time. Keep monitoring ammonia, doing water changes... staying the path. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Tyler

Re: Whitish Hairy rock growth...? Thank You Bob! You're fast man! <A slow day> Another question... What would your NH3 threshold for performing a water change be under these circumstances? 2ppm... 4? <IMO about 2 ppm... Soon we'll be dressing alike, sheesh. Bob Fenner>

Re: Whitish Hairy rock growth...? What are you wearing? [Just kidding!] Thanks again. :-) <Man, you're low... running shorts and tee... no shoes! Hope you're dressed in a minkey suit with one of those devices for emphasizing your bilateral symmetry... Oh, doubles as a napkin I guess. Be chatting. Bob Fenner> Tyler

Re: Whitish Hairy rock growth...? Hi Bob, RE: High Ammonia levels... Would you recommend a water additive like "Ammo-Lock2" to bring down the ammonia in my tank, or is that stuff just "hot air"? <More hot air than help in all but disastrously high situations where other strategies can't be employed... Need to find, solve root causes... adapt the livestock back down more slowly to lower concentrations... for their sake and the systems establishment of nitrification. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Tyler Re: Whitish Hairy rock growth...? > I am not aware of any complex organisms existing in the system. > The tank is now clearing and my NH3 readings are ~1.5ppm (pH 8.2, and not > registering N02 and NO3 levels [probably because of near complete water > change]); however, I've noticed a new growth in some of the rock crevices of > a whitish, diaphanous, hairy-looking nature that I am totally incapable of > identifying. I had initially guessed a form of algae (because of its > coincident appearance following the addition of light), but I can't find any > that fit the description. Will you help me? > <Unfortunately I probably can... these are colonies of decomposers... fungus, > actinomycetes... that will be supplanted in time. Keep monitoring ammonia, > doing water changes... staying the path. Bob Fenner> Sorry to plague you with this, Bob, but what do you mean by "unfortunately"? <Sorry for the lack of clarity. By "unfortunately" I mean/t am all too familiar with this scenario, set of circumstances. Have done and heard, seen others suffer from these sorts of "collapses". Too much death/"curing" decomposition going on for other mechanisms to support sufficient "cycling" rates, pathways... and subsequent "whiting out", evidence of mass decomposer/ition activity> Does the presence of these 'actinomycetes' signify anything? Is my rock dying out? <In a manner of speaking, yes... more of it, faster than I suspect you want to. All will/can stabilize... but you don't want too much of the "live" portions of your rock to go under. Imagine a life raft, like our planet, or a bunch of different species/populations on a floating log traversing inhospitable space. Some species will be more favored/impugned than others and their populations will be favored/impugned more than others... depending on prevailing conditions (environmental, predator-prey, genetic-adaptive... so much more)... and all may die back... but likely not all "equally"... In your prevailing conditions the latter is probably happening. Conditions are "so bad" that the vast majority of life forms are dying... and "opportunistic" (from our view point) organisms are utilizing them, the space...> Do you know if the presence of Ammo-Lock2 will prevent the ammonia it advertises to "de-toxify" from registering in a standard NH3 titration test? <Hmm, yes... as stated previously.> (I bit the bullet and used some because the NH3 levels spiked up to 4.0 yesterday just before I did a 25% water change--they're still at 4ppm this morning. Aaargh!) <Yikes... best to "spread out" your live rock if at all possible... place it in containers of larger volume... if you can in a "single layer"... can even "go outside" like in a kiddee wading pool rather than continue to rot in a 55... Bob Fenner> Thanks again! Tyler

Cured live Rock Hey Bob a real quick question. If I buy cured live rock from my local fish store. Should I still quarantine the Live Rock before I put it in the main tank? Thanks, David G. <Please read through the Live Rock "curing" FAQs on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com  Bob Fenner>

Curing Live Rock Hey Bob, I just bought a 19 lb piece of live rock at the LFS to add to my tank. They said that it had arrived on Monday and needs to be cure. (I could already tell my the stench in the live rock area and the amount of foam their protein skimmer was putting out). Anyway I have the rock in 10 Gallon trash can in my basement. I have a small powerhead for circulation. Should I change the water every week or wait till the Ammonia and Nitrite read 0? Also, is a protein skimmer necessary (SP) to cure like rock or is it ok just to use a power head. Thank You, Jonathan Pac <Please read over our site on this topic. The answers to these questions are posted there from other folks. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock and Firefish Hi Bob, I would really like to thank you for creating this website. It has become an invaluable tool in my quest to learn and have fun.  <Outstanding! Exactly our intent> My question regards the curing of Live Rock in my 55 gal. I ordered 45 lbs. of Fiji from FFE and have 10 lbs. of Base Rock from my LFS. When I placed the Rock in my tank after picking off dying sponges and macro-algae, I saw that Ammonia was at about 4 and Nitrites at 3 or so. I did a water change and now they are both at .25 (and have been for a while) with Nitrates at 15. Since both Ammonia and Nitrites are at .25 will they stay there?  <Possibly... there may still be some substantial die-off that might well boost these to "water change" levels (as in more than 1.0 ppm> Is there an end in sight? <Likely so... patience is more than its own reward my friend> Also...once my live rock cures I would like to add a pair of Firefish to the tank. How do I establish a pair? <Ask your supplier, or pick out two that seem to get along. Bob Fenner>

I need your help again! (LR curing protocol concerns) Hello Bob, I contacted you last week in regards to adding LR to my 55g FO system which has been set up over 2 years. I ordered the 45 lb Fiji $99 LR from FFE. It has been in a 35g Rubbermaid tub since Friday. I have been checking the Ammonia everyday. Today, the 4th day, the ammonia was at or above 2 ppm (upper limit on my test kit). The instructions from FFE site states to "do not do any water changes until ammonia and nitrites tests both read zero". When I ordered my rock from FFE, I asked some questions and the guy said to wait 4 days and then do a large change. Today, I looked at your site and it states to perform a water change if the ammonia goes way up. Well, I just changed about 75% of the water and will wait a bit and take another reading. I am prepared to do water changes when necessary. <Hmm, the instructions (written and verbal) from FFE don't seem consistent... I will stand by mine (or sit as the case may be)... do keep checking the ammonia (and later nitrite), and do smaller changes (no more than 25%) should the ammonia or nitrite exceed 1.0ppm in any given day... We can/could chat about alkalinity, but suffice it here to state that I would add a teaspoon (mixed in with some of the water ahead of time, distributed about the surface...) of baking soda (yes, just brand X sodium bicarbonate) every day as well... to replenish/augment the alkaline reserve... which tends to go sideways in these situations as well...> Due to the conflicting advice from FFE, do you think this high ammonia will do damage to the rock?  <Likely not much... this is a "typical scenario".> In changing the water, I noticed 2 dead worms. Is this an indication that I may have damaged things with the high ammonia? <Not really... there are plenty of worms et al. to spare.> Also, give me a heads up as to what is normal/bad for LR, lookswise. I can't find any info on what is good on the rock and what is bad. <Hmm, a worthy task... highly variable here...> Maybe sometime in the future you could show some close up photos of what is desirable and what is damaging when curing/choosing LR. To be honest, I have no idea as to the quality of this rock! Thanks once again!!! Susie <Please don't be overly concerned here... all will work out as best it can with the work, attention you are allocating. Have you read through the Live Rock sections on our site? http://wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm Bob Fenner>

Re: I need your help again! Thank You Bob!!! Thanks also for the link to your site but I have been living there today! <Me too!> I even saw my email from last week listed on your LR section :) <Yep, that's about where all this comes from...> I just checked the ammonia again and it is still high perhaps 1-2 ppm instead of equal to or greater than 2 ppm. Following your instructions, since it is still over 1 ppm, should I continue to change the water anymore today?  <Not today... twenty five percent tomorrow> It sounds like changing too big of a volume all at once could do harm?  <Yes, more than good...> Please advise one more time. Also, I will add the baking soda. Thanks again! Susie <You're doing fine. Bob Fenner>

Curing LR/lighting, marine substrate on the cheap Hi Bob, Hope you had a good weekend.  <Yes my friend. Thank you. Hope yours was as well> As for your question regarding the beer, I guess that's why the came up with the slogan, "Why ask why..." :-) <oh yes> Well, as always, answers bring rise to new questions. <If they're good ones> Here's today's questions: with a new tank setup, I would really prefer to re-cure all 90lbs of LR in place in one shot. What are cons of doing it this way, versus curing two 45lb batches as you recommended?  <Really, only the added possibility/chance of "overwhelming" the system and its mechanicals... and having too much, too soon of the live part of the rock die off... Always a chance of this... but smaller batches... mixed with already cured LR... less potential> Also, I've seen various posts regarding the Southdown sand at Home Depot. Have you had anymore experience with that?  <Yes, ugh, mainly lifting bags...> In your latest responses on that subject, it didn't seem that you really had an opinion regarding its use. I'm mainly interested in the buffering capacity of the sand, (similar to coral sand?) <Hmm, almost identical... does have equivalent properties, composition... should look through, possibly screen for misc. glass and metal pieces... though I've never encountered any.> ... and the cheap price of course! Thanks again. <It is indeed a real bargain. Bob Fenner>

Please advise! (Live rock, stocking/crowding) Hello Bob! Thanks for helping all of us. It is rare to find someone with your knowledge helping the average Joe...and for free!  <This "work" has its many, just rewards> I have made the decision today to stay in this hobby. I have had a 55g FO with NLR/NLS for over 2 years. Last weekend, my yellow tang of 2 years died. I have been reading more lately in search for an answer to the death. Someone pointed to the lack of natural habitat. I discovered your site and see you list LR as the number #1 most important element.  <Yes> I thought about adding LR in the past and didn't. I want to now. I also see you make reference to FFE. They have 45 lbs of Fiji LR for $99. A couple of questions. Can I add 45lbs to my established 55g...is their rock cured enough to add directly?  <Hmm, could be... sorry to not be yes/no didactic here... this "natural" product is not very consistent... coming from the wild, or due to delays, other vagaries of shipping and handling... In general I would take the risk here... size of tank, age of system, type of livestock, amount of rock... IF you can get the "more cured" variety... which is worth the extra cost> I really don't have the means to additional cure the rock myself. The tank includes a tomato clown, a flame angel (my favorite), a cleaner shrimp and a brittle star. Also, cost wise I am sure it would be cheaper to buy/ship all at once. Also, I think I am noticing a riff between the clown and flame angel although they have been together for almost a year. I am thinking adding LR would provide more hiding spots for the fish.  <You and I are in agreement here> The flame angel is missing part of its front fin. Do you think the tomato nipped it off? Could it have gotten caught on something. <Possibly> Are these 2 fish really not compatible for my tank?  <Should be barely enough room... perhaps with more decor vis a vis the new live rock...> Will the fin grow back? <Yes, assuredly> That's all for now. I have so many questions I am sure you'll be hearing from me again. By the way, I do own one of your books! Thanks a lot!!!! Susie <Thank you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock waiting time frame for restocking, protocol Hi Mr. Fenner, I've been reading your advice now for some time and I must say I am impressed. Now I would like to ask for your sage wisdom.  <Like sagebrush?> I have a 55 to which I added 45 lb. of Walt Smith Fiji on 6/8/01. Prior to the rock I moved my fish, snails and crabs to a pair of 20s I keep as hospital/quarantine. The numbers today are salinity 1.022, Ammonia 0, Nitrite 0, Nitrate 2.5, pH 8.2 Alk is high according to my test kit. Can you estimate how much water 45 lb. of Fiji rock displace?  <Somewhere between seven and ten gallons> Are my fish and others ready to return home?  <I would wait another week or so> Should I do a water change first?  <Yes> How much water?  <Twenty five percent or so now and the same next week> Have been changing about 10 gal every two weeks. Thinking about 5 gal changes in the future. No water change since before the rock was added.  <You are encouraged to check alkalinity, pH with the live rock change> The rock is great lots of coralline algae, feather dusters and much more. <Ah, sounds good, looks the same> Thanks for your help.  Rick Klages <Be chatting my friend. Bob Fenner>

A question. I appreciate your comments and have obtained and reviewed the checklist. Permit me to ask a follow up question. <Certainly> If I will be curing the additional 85 lbs of live rock in a separate container for two weeks should I put in the new tank before I bring over all of the new inhabitants, at the same time, or after. <Before> The reason I ask is that if I do it before or at the same time, it may start to cycle the new tank which may shock the fish/coral. <Yes, I understand this> If I do it after, would the existing bacteria limit any new cycle?  <To some great extent, yes> What do you think is the safest course of action? <The stated one above and previous. Bob Fenner

Live Rock Curing Robert, My wife and I are currently curing some Vanisi live rock in a new aquarium. It has been in the tank for about 5 days and has begun to turn black in certain areas. For example, I have a ledge and there is a black area beginning on the bottom of the rock. Also, black spots are beginning to show up on other parts of the rock in places where there didn't seem to be any life before. Could you tell me what this blackness is? Is it normal? If not, how can I get rid of it? <Evidence of anaerobic decomposition mainly... likely from where sponges, large algae were "knocked off"... best to keep system aerated, circulated, skimmer running full out, an eye on alkalinity, pH, calcium, ammonia and nitrite... and change water out if/when too far "out". This is "normal"...> Best regards, Michael Rivera P.S.: My wife and I really like your web site www.wetwebmedia.com. Keep up the great work. <Thank you my friends. I will try. Bob Fenner>

Questions about curing live rock Mr. Fenner, Hi, I am setting up my first marine/reef tank. I have a 55 Gallon tank. I am getting 65 lbs of "pre-cured" rock in the next few days. First, I have a trickle filter....do you recommend removing the bio-media (I got the round blue ones)? <Yes... after a few weeks, once your system has cycled completely.> Inside the sump is sitting my protein skimmer. If I was going to introduce a bag of activated carbon to help get the gunk out during the curing process, where would be a good place to position it? <Not during the curing process... and when you do start using such chemical filtrants find a place in your filter flow path about the last before the water is returned to the main/display system> Do you recommend curing the rock "in-place" or positioning it temporarily to maximize surface area/water flow? <In place is almost always better> I have a 40watt 5500k florescent light for now, is that enough for the curing process? I plan on purchasing a couple more lamps or upgrading to compacts when I get ready to add livestock. <More would be better... and you really need about three plus times this "amount" of light for a 55...> I am planning to use Live Sand as a substrate, when should I add it? How deep should it be to be most effective? <Please see our site: www.WetWebMedia.com re "Marine Substrates" and the many other set-up questions you have now... and are likely to have in the near future.> Anything I could do to speed the process along? <Nothing practical. Be chatting, Bob Fenner, whose old friend Mark Ferguson still works at the Monterey Bay Aquarium> Thanks, Mike Ferguson

Questions about curing live rock

Thank you for your time, your site is wonderful - keep up the good work. Couple more things... I added the live rock last night...tested it this morning Ammonia, 1.0 Nitrites, 0.5 ph, 8.2 temp is 76 and salinity is right on protein skimmer has so far removed a small amount of tea colored gunk.... is this a good sign that the process is starting? <Yes... right on target> When will I really begin to see some curing taking place - stinky water, loaded skimmer, algae blooms etc? <All in a few days to a couple of weeks... You'll see. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Mike ps. just very excited, this is my son's first birthday present and want to know all there is and understand all the processes behind it so he can have a beautiful and diverse environment to devour (mentally, not literally I hope)....and a bit impatient to boot...maybe a bad combo :)

Live rock curing questions Bob, Thanks for your response to my previous note on live rock curing. Do you have any suggestions that might improve my 'curing' process? <Posted on "Curing LR FAQs" on www.WetWebMedia.com> Also, could you recommend a source of 'fresh, uncured live rock'?  <Links on the WWM links pages> I know you've mentioned 'Walt Smith Intl' before, but I had a couple Ques on WSI: 1) How can they be contacted to place an order (the link to WSI on your site points to a site that it no longer up). <Don't sell to end-users> 2) Do you know what the minimum order size would have to be from WSI? (would I be better off getting it from a transhipper?  <From a jobber, etailer> If so, can you recommend any that deliver top quality raw rock?) Thanks! <Again... on the WWM site. Bob Fenner>

Re: FFExpress Rock--Really Cured? Thank you for your quick response I couldn't find any live rock more cured on ffexpress. It seems like all their rock is either "precured" or uncured. Are you saying I would have to do the water changes and other things to the precured rock?  <Yes... and sorry about the confusion. What I'm trying to state is that there is really no such thing as totally pre-cured live rock products... they are all just to a degree "more cured"... necessitating some care, likely a mini (or series of mini) "re-curing" exercises to be ready for further livestock placement> It says right on their site that the rock is cured for several weeks in Fiji. Is this just advertising? <Well... not "just" advertising... Though I have been to Fiji a few times, visited the facilities where the preparation is done and no one, NOT ONE OUTFIT cures their LR for more than a few days of "spray rinsing" (see the Article, "The Best Live Rock; From Fiji" posted on the website: www.WetWebMedia.com and all the associated FAQs files before spending anymore time and money in confusion here> Please Clarify Andrew <Bob Fenner>

Live rock curing questions Bob, Thanks for all your previous responses. I've had success with a 70 gal reef tank, and currently setting up another 75 reef tank and am planning a 180 gal SPS tank (yep, I'm addicted). <Ah, glad to be "your candy man"> I've been toying with the idea of trying to cure my own live rock. If I did this, I wanted to have a process that dealt with 1) Curing in 0 ammonia/nitrite/nitrate environment  <Unlikely, and unnecessary> with max oxygen saturation, 2) cured under bright light - to max photosynthetic growth, and 3) minimize undesirable life (crabs/mantis/bristle worms/Aiptasia) and 4) maintain safety for the 'curor - me'. I'm trying to design the best 'curing' system for 200 lbs of live rock and had several Ques I hoped you could help me with - I have read your FAQs and other sources. <Okay... and know that this is "something" we do semi-continuously here in a small (4k gallon) pilot/experimental "farm"> I'd put the 200 lbs in a 300 gal tub, lit by a single 175 watt 5500K MH. <Yikes, suspended pretty high I guess> Circulation would be 1500 gal/hr for 1st 2 wks, then 600 gal/hr. (2 30 gal surge devices would provide surge - only during 1st two wks). The mechanical filter would be 3 grades of plastic mesh, frequently rinsed of debris. this would be followed by ozonizers (2 100mg), each connected to a RS Berlin XL skimmer driven by a mag 9.5. (I'm hoping this will deal with the ammonia/nitrite). <I see> This would be followed by a 300 gal tub filled with macro algae (Caulerpa) and lit by a single 175 watt 5500K MH - its sole purpose would be nitrate/phosphate consumption. <Good idea> I figured it could take 2-4 weeks to deal with the bulk of the die-off. Once that's done, I'd set mechanical trap door traps baited with food to capture the 'nasties'. Figure another 2-4 wks for the nasties (basically, I'd wait a week after I stopped catching anything). I'd then put several peppermint shrimp (possibly Berghia nudibranchs) to remove the Aiptasia. <Maybe...> My questions for you are: 1) If curing 200 lbs of 'ripe' live rock, how much ozone do I need per hour to deal with the ammonia/nitrite.  <A few to several hundred milligrams...> I know ozone will convert ammonia/nitrite to nitrate, but can I rely on the ozone to convert all of it to nitrate, <Yes> or should I use a fluidized bed in addition/in place?  <In addition is a good idea> If I go with a fluidized bed, how large do I need for 200lbs of rock (I'm considering a used FB filter built for aquaculture. Its a 12 GPM that's rated for 2 lbs of feed./day - would that be sufficient/overkill?). <Sufficient, no worry about overdoing it> 2) would my 2 RS Berlin XLs be sufficient? <Yes> 3) Is my idea of using a 300 gal tub of macro algae - 24 hr lit - sound for consuming phosphate and nitrate? Would you recommend a larger/smaller tank of algae to handle 200 lbs of LR? <No...nice to have two matched containers... I can see two Rubbermaid (tm) trough/tubs of polyethylene in your future... then nested together for storage...> 4) Are there easier ways of removing the undesirable life than the traps/natural predators I'm proposing? I've heard of some retailers using a 'salt spray' curing process that supposedly eliminates most nasties, but haven't found detailed info on this. What's your opinion on 'salt spray' curing method - and could you point me to a source of 'how to' info? <Salt spray? These don't work... a rinse to gently urge out worms, crustaceans et al does a good job... like the WSI facility in Latouka, Fiji... The traps are worth pursuing, as are the use of predatory fishes, invertebrates...> 5) would dipping the LR in freshwater for several minutes (30???) kill all the large nasties (mantis/Aiptasia/crabs) w/o killing the coralline and other desirable life? <Not really... the "nasties" can take this treatment about as long as all other life> 6) Lastly, are there any precautions that humans should take when curing live rock? I've never seen this mentioned, but it occurred to me that there could be several rare, but nasty risks: 1) cone shells, blue ring octopus (not sure if this could survive the ship), parasites that might use a human host, etc. Is this a non-issue? If it is an issue, how do the commercial guys deal with it? <The folks that really do anything to prep. their rock, power-blast/rinse out the gunk/mud, chip off the sponges, "kelp" algae et al... Don't know of anyone getting bitten by an octopus, stung by a cone snail... myself. Folks that I've visited with in the South Pacific, Florida wear sturdy, long gloves to protect their hands period when handling the gross poundage...> Thanks!

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