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FAQs about "Base" Rock 1

Related Articles: Live RockReef Systems, Refugiums

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A good start.

Hi Bob,
I have rescued about 15 kg of free live rock from a local LFS in which due to today's climate had to close down. However the rock is of unknown origin and didn't look healthy so I decided I didn't want to contaminate my new set-up but not having a spare tank to keep it cycling I had to decide to let the rock die off. I have placed it in a tank outside to dry out and it has been for the last 5 weeks, it has been kept dry and in the recent sunshine we have been experiencing. I'm against just throwing it away as is what my LFS would of done.
So to my questions, is there a method of now introducing it back into my system? I now have a spare tank to use or can I use my new set-up, which currently is empty? What preparation if any needs to be done?
Many Thanks
Will Barrett 

Hello Will,
            Sorry to read/realize the loss of your local shop/stockist Though a sign of the times, such independent outlets are to be encouraged as bastions of ready help, as well as meeting places for aquarist-folk, supplies and livestock.
            Strictly speaking, and akin to curing concrete, mortars there is no such thing as finished live rock and much opportunity in good hands for revitalizing any that is not outright poisonous. Thus, I do definitely concur with your plans to re-use this material.
            From where you are presently, having dried out this rock, I would proceed to blast any residue off with a hose pipe outdoors, and simply situate this rock off to the side or underneath some of your extant rock in time it will become live enough from inoculation with life in your ongoing system. For good measure, adding just a bit of new live rock, on top of the existing is a very good idea to re-seed/re-new the biota, diversity in any rock of more than a years age/use.
            For folks who might have a similar situation, but with rock with some life of questionable desire on/in it, I suggest a routine light bleaching (perhaps a cup of household chlorine bleach to five gallons of water), to soak in for an hour or more draining, refilling with new water, a cursory rinse and air-drying after for a day or more to speed up the cleaning process. For Will here, the air-drying has resulted in the kill-off of most all life, undesirable and otherwise.

"Dead" Rock for a Reef? Good For You! 2/24/08 Hello Crew. <Hey there! Scott F. on board today!> I was just wondering if I can seed dead live rock from a few Good and Live Rocks? I know a guy who is selling his dead live rock and I just bought a new tank with Live Rock from my LFS. Cheers <Absolutely! Generally, inert or "dead" rock will "recruit" life forms almost without exception. After a relatively short span of time, you'll see many different animals start to colonize and reproduce on and within the rock. In fact, one of our fine WWM supporters, Marco Rock, sells a wonderful selection of such "dead" rock for just this purpose. Beautiful aquariums can be developed using this material, with a little patience on the part of the hobbyist. And, it's less expensive than "live" rock, and has all of the benefits, without many of the typical shortcomings of uncured live rock. It is not necessary to build your reef structure out of entirely live material. Seed the inert rock with some live rock/sand from a healthy, established aquarium, and/or purchase "kits" of beneficial animals from sources like Indo Pacific Sea Farms or other e-tailers. Coralline and other algae, not to mention many different invertebrates, will gradually colonize the rock, resulting in a beautiful and healthy reef. IN fact, one of the advantages of using this inert rock is that, once given a pretty good cleaning, you're virtually assured of starting with rock free of pests and nuisance algae. If you elect to go this route, I say, "good for you!" The results of patience and letting nature run its unhurried course can never be downplayed. Best of luck to you! Regards, Scott F.>

Water chemistry question... Anomalous invert. SW losses   2/21/08 Hey guys, long time lurker first time e-mailer. I have a 50g mixed reef with a 20g sump/refuge. My water parameters always test to 0ppm for ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate; phosphates are about 0.05ppm (LFS test), calcium is between 400 and 450ppm, Alk is 10dkh, lastly my magnesium is 1350. The tank was upgraded from my 24g nanocube which ran for 2 years, and now my 50g has been up for about 10 months. I've been having a bad green hair algae problem and been having a hard time keeping my Astrea and Mexican Turbos alive for more then a month. <Mmm... something... is growing there that is poisoning the snails...> I now only have 2 Astraea's, initially I couldn't figure out why I would lose my Astraea's and Turbos but after surfing around on WWM I think I'm attributing it to pyramid snails. <Maybe...> I see them around the tank and I pick them out by hand, and now I inspect my two Astraea's and remove the pyramid's from them. <Do you see these actually on the dead snails?> I don't see the pyramids much anymore. Anyway I did get 2 months ago a Sixline partially because I wanted to see if it would eat the pyramids and partially because I like watching them. Anyway he lasted about 2 weeks and I found him stuck to my maxi-jet 1200 that I modded for more flow. <Also likely poisoned...> I don't know why he died but he looked great up until I came home and saw him dead. Anyway because I can't keep snails alive a few weeks after that I got a sea hare <Mmm, I would be checking the species, its biology... too many of these are coldwater, too toxic themselves...> thinking maybe with the absence of snails or a clam the pyramids would die. The sea hare did great, he was mowing down the algae but he lasted 2 weeks as well. <Something, chemical, biochemical...> I found him one day behind my rockwork white as a ghost and with his guts spit out. Lastly a month later I decided to get a tuxedo urchin. He's been great at eating the algae as well but he just died today. Is there some type of pest that would take these guys out, or is there some chemical that both my LFS and my tests aren't looking for? Oh by the way, I do a water change out of 10g once every week and a half and for fish I only have 2 ocellaris clowns and they have been in both tanks since day one and they and my corals don't seem to be affected at all. This can't just be bad luck can it? <Again... summat amiss here... Could be a blue-green, other Division algae, or something else... I would try using a pad of PolyFilter (please write back re colors you see accumulating on the pad), and add a good bit of some "other" species of useful algae to your lighted area of the refugium (Gracilaria or Chaetomorpha are my best choices)... You need to eliminate whatever the toxicity is here, and these steps should do it. Bob Fenner>  

Re: Water chemistry question... Anomalous invert. SW losses... Tufa rock  2/21/08 Thank you very much for your help. I'll pick up some PolyFilter and let you guys know. I do have some Chaeto in my fuge and it grows fast <A good sign> but my fuge is starting to be overcome by the hair algae as well. <A bad one... Do you have access to a few hundred power microscope? I am suspecting that this hair algae is a Cyanobacteria... no nuclei or other visible endoplasmic inclusions... See WWM re ID...> The algae itself is a darker green and is soft/silky when I pull it out. <Does it feel slimy?> I'm also using about 40 pounds of tufa rock if that has anything to do with it, <Erp! Does... See WWM re... use the search tool and the term... on the "Ask the Crew..." page, view the cached views... the Tufa rock is VERY likely the source of trouble here> the other 30 pounds are Fiji base rocks transferred from my nano cube. Anyway thank you for your time, I'll update you in a few days. <The PolyFilter will help absorb some of the Tufa issue, but not indefinitely... it needs to be pulled. BobF>

Re: Water chemistry question... Anomalous invert. SW losses... Tufa Rock  2/21/08 Aha! Tufa rock, man I wish I would have read what I just read 10 months ago. <Ah, you and I both> I'm attaching a picture of what the algae looks like in my tank. <Nice... except for the...> I do have to say that until I got my ATO working in my sump when I was first setup and cycling the tank my water level ran low and 2 times I had to top off with tap water because I didn't have an RODI unit and the grocery store's unit was down for maintenance. The algae started out as Cyano obviously because of my use of tap water and after 3 months turned to what you see now in the picture. It's not really slimy, at least not like what Cyano feels like but it is kind of close. You can see in the picture that all of the tufa rock has bad hair algae and non of my established Fiji rock has it. <A clue eh?> I manually pick it out to battle it, I've gone as far as remove the rocks on the right side of the tank to scrub them in water from a water change and then put them back in only to find that the problem got worse. <More exposed surface area on the Tufa...> It seems like the more I pick the algae out the faster it grows back. My dad's work has an electron microscope that takes pictures he's going to see if he can bring it home over the weekend because I'll be up in Cleveland visiting my parents, if not he said I can put some algae in a test tube and he'll take it to work and email me the pictures. <Neat!> Also to answer a previous question you asked, I have never seen the so called pyramid snails that I think I have on a dead Astrea or turbo, but I have seen them on the live ones. I figured better to be safe then sorry and pick them out. In my nano-cube they did stay on the glass and algae all the time but I had a hard time keeping the snails alive there too, especially Mexican Turbos. <These may be something other than Pyramidellids> I had one live about 8 months but the replacement one lived 2 or 3 months. The poly-filter is in my sump, what color would it turn if its a toxic chemical from the tufa rock? Green? <We'll see... depends on the nutrients available, preponderant> Lastly, my wife and I are closing on a house tomorrow and will be moving into it on March 2nd. <Ah, congrats!> My plans were to first plumb a 50g Rubbermaid stock tank in our basement and plumb that to the main tank that would be on the first floor in our family room. My idea for moving would be to dig my snails out of the sand, and pitch the sand and start fresh as recommended by my local reef club. To transport the water I was going to use the orange 5g painter buckets to get them from my apartment to my new house and setup my 24g nano until the dust clears in the main tank with the new sand. If the tufa rock is the culprit, I have about 40lbs in my main display, if I were to remove it and add 40lbs of Fiji rock to my main display wouldn't the combination of adding the sand and rock send my tank into another cycle? <Quite possibly so... I'd get the new Fiji LR and cure it ASAP, and move it in with the big MOVE> If so should I just keep my nano-cube up and running to just re-cycle my tank or how would you go about that whole situation? Also, to clarify, were you referring to my algae problem being caused by the tufa rock maybe? Or where you referring to the tufa rock releasing the toxin into my system killing new additions? Or both? <Both... or the algae the Tufa is "sponsoring" in turn producing toxins... The Tufa's got to go. Bob Fenner>

Bleached rock    8/30/07I took the advice from this website on how to store live rock. I bleached my live rock and now a few months later plan to reuse it. Other than rinsing it with fresh water is there anything else I need to do to prepare the rock before putting it into my existing tank? Is there anything I should look for to know that it's safe to reuse? Thanks for all the help. <Well, it's not live rock anymore. Did you soak it in water with dechlorinator before you stored it (and after you bleached it)? If so, then yes, I'd say all you need to do is rinse it well. If not, you should soak it in dechlorinated water for a day to be safe. Best, Sara M.>

Texas holey rock – 08/02/07 Hi Crew <Hi Rick.> I was thinking about buying some Texas holey rock I have seen for sale. They say it is limestone. <is> The people say it is safe to use in saltwater tanks? <Likely so.> I said its safe to use in saltwater tanks when WetWebMedia says it is LOL <laughing out loud?>. I love the rock its big with lots of holes and unique shapes and only a buck a pound. I was going to add 4 large pieces to a new tank set up and add some smaller live rock to let it grow on the new bare Texas Holey rock. Your knowledge is always appreciated. <Texas holey rock is limestone with holes from erosion with acid rain and groundwater. It’s adequate for African cichlid tanks, but does not have the high porosity of live rock or dry coral skeletons sometimes referred to as reef rock or ocean rock. Therefore I’d prefer live rock or possibly ocean rock (which is cheap, too) for biological filtration and denitrification. Holey rock won’t help much and just look nice.> Thanks Rick. <You are welcome. Cheers, Marco.>

Reusing Once Live Rock  7/29/07 Greetings, <Hi Jeff, Mich here.> I have a question about some dry rock that I have. <OK.> It was once used in an aquarium that I ran a few years ago. I had removed the desirable organisms/components to a new system I am still maintaining. Due to nothing more than laziness, the old one literally dried up. The rock is obviously encrusted with a think layer of salt, but this is not what concerns me. The kicker is that the previous tank was one of those old ones that had the metal trim around the edges. As this was my first aquarium, I did not consider that this trim would corrode in short order and I suspect was contributing to all the algae that I battled for so long. <Mmm, more likely due to excess nutrients.> I imagine that the rock would have absorbed these excess nutrients (and possibly toxins?). If I were to soak this rock in some ro/di would I be able to safely use again? <Yes, should be. Will become live to a degree with time but it is unlikely to be of the same quality it once was. More here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/baserockfaqs.htm After rinsing/soaking I would place in a Rubbermaid type container with the water from your tank you remove following a water change in order to help reactivate. You might want to throw in some rubble rock or a small piece of live rock to move the process along. Should also have heater and a powerhead in the container> I would guess there is around 15 pounds and the system I'm currently running is about 5 years old with roughly 25-30 pounds in the display and maybe another 20 pounds in the refugium. I would relegate the rock in question to the refugium and wouldn't be bothered if there were an algal progression on it. Any thoughts? <A viable possibility but I would keep it separate from the system initially.> Thanks for the help, <Welcome!> this site is great! <I think so too! Mich> Jeff

Is This Dark Base Rock Safe?  7/29/07 Hello, <Hi Ryan, Mich here.> I purchased some live rock (mostly base rock) second hand to cycle my tank. A few of the pieces are dark and appear to possibly be volcanic. The dark rocks are larger and thin so might be good for building ledges, but I am concerned they may leach bad things into the water. Should the dark rocks be removed? <Looks to be quality live rock as far as I can tell.> Please see the attachment for details. <I do not see any thing in the photo that looks to be of volcanic origin to me.> Thank you,
<Welcome! Mich>

I hope I am wrong about my Lace Rock – 06/29/07 Hey Guys, <Jim> I am hoping you will send me off in another direction, but any help at this point would be great. I have an algae issue (green hair / filament algae). I do weekly H20 changes with RO/DI water. I also "vacuum, brush and pull" the algae off the rocks 2x a week. <No fun...> I have great flow (20x) I also "brush off rocks to make sure...(desperate?) <Maybe> I also have tested my fresh and salt mix. All are 0 nitrate and 0 po4. My tank test 0 nitrate and 0 or very close on po4. I took my h20 into LFS to confirm and they did. I have a refug. and a res. with a protein skimmer. I have changed my lights (4 halide 150w 1400k). I am running with phospholock (sp? ferric hydroxide?) etc. I don't "feed" my corals etc. I only have 12 small fish in a 265 tank I am running a protein skimmer and clean it every other day. I may not have as many cleaner crew as a LFS would recommend, but they are breeding and seem to be doing fine. I have 2 tangs and a lawn mower blenny. I need to scrub my overflows daily because the algae is clogging them. I need to clean my sponge filter 2x a week because it is clogged with algae. I may need a shrink soon.... <Heeeeee! Maybe one with long arms who can help pull the algae!> I have a old live rock (that sat out for a year) from my old tank (50 or so lbs) with 60 that I got when I set this up and about 90 lbs of lace rock which sat in my old tank for 2-3 years as well (and then out for a year). <... I see> I had an algae problem in my old tank, but it was pieced together and I figured was due to poor set up / maint. <Mmm, maybe just one aspect...> Given all this...Could it have been the lace rock? <Yes> I put a piece in a bit of clean salt water and it seems to have raised the PO4, but test kits are not extremely accurate. I am out of other ideas. I hope I am wrong as I have the whole thing nicely strapped into a PVC frame that looks great and a bunch of SPS and LPS coral that is thriving when the algae keeps off of it. I really don't want to have to take it all apart and am not sure how I would even start doing it. But, I also can't spend 2 nights a week cleaning up the algae. <Yikes.... I'd be pulling, replacing> Any help would be great. The tank was "fine" for about the first 6 months but the last have been a real challenge. Oh and I add purple up <Oh! I'd abandon this product as well... More trouble than it's worth...> to try and get the good pink stuff thriving. Every thing looks healthy, SPS is spreading and growing, LPS looks good. Soft are spreading, xenia is the only thing that is not spreading (I am glad). Again thanks. <Mmm, well... there are even more countervailing strategies than the ones you have aptly applied here (refugium, skimming, chemical filtrants...), but I would remove the Lace rock, quit the Purple Up... and you should see, realize almost immediate improvement. Bob Fenner>

Re: I hope I am wrong about my Lace Rock 6/29/07 Thanks Bob. Does this process make sense? <Let's see...> Pull Lace Rock and stop purple up. See if issue goes away. If it does then Add new Live Rock to replace Lace Rock? <I wouldn't wait m'self> How do I make sure the LR is fully cured? <See WWM re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marinvind1.htm> I could add a piece at a time or keep it in a tub with a power head for a while. I know I have a good bio load in the tank but I am not sure what impact adding 50 - 70 lbs of live rock will have (except to my wallet..) <One approach> I have a water making station I could put some live rock in, but it is only a 35gal tub. <Big enough...> Thanks for your support. I look to your site often. <I as well... perhaps a bit too often and long! Cheers, BobF>

Using old live rock – 06/14/07 I began again a saltwater aquarium after a couple of decades away from the hobby. <Some changes now!> Starting small with a 29 gallon tank. In the last 5 months I have been through a huge learning curve. Water movement is a must, with good lighting and a good protein skimmer. In the beginning a friend of mine donated about 45 pounds of rock he had been storing for about ten years. Long story short, this rock kept my nitrates levels beyond 200 ppm. <Yeeikes! A bit high...> Even with some new live rock could not alleviate the problem. Removed all the old stuff and cleaned live sand and crushed coral. <And this...> Total change of water and nitrates are 30-40 ppm. The old live rock has been sun tanning now for about 2 weeks. Will I or can I salvage this old rock without introducing the nitrate producing element which the old rock seems to have. <Can... under "special circumstances"... blending in with new, live... And/or using macroalgae et al. for nutrient export... perhaps a DSB...> I am adding a 50 gallon tank with built-in refugium <Oh! Good> which will work in conjunction with my 29 gallon tank. Live rock that I have could be used for seeding. Also would save me a lot of money. Any help with this would be most appreciated. Yours truly, Frank Hack <I would definitely use... at least for base... If very concerned, I would acid/bleach wash... Please see WWM re: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/clnornart.htm and the linked FAQs file above. Bob Fenner>

Coral as a Lawn Alternative – 06/14/07 Aloha! <Aloha kakahiaka! Mich here.> Thanks for the great site full of information. <Welcome! Glad you found it informative!> I am thinking of collecting dead white coral from the coastal area and placing them around the front yard to highlight the edges. The coral is a beautiful white and has been there for many years in direct sunlight. <I have seen this coral first hand on a few visits to the Big Island. It is absolutely beautiful!> Do I need to do any preparation beforehand? <For?> Will the white color continue to be in such good shape even if it placed under the shade of trees ? <Maybe, but if it stays damp I suspect you might get some type of plant growth, which could cause discoloration.> Thank you. <You're welcome! Mich>

Thought I'd Share An Observation... Aragonitic Base Rock 6/6/07 Good afternoon all, I have both a 90gallon soon to be reef setup and a 200gallon FOWLR. About a year ago I had asked the question if aragonite (sp?) <This is it... or better, "aragonitic" type...> would be a suitable CHEAP base rock to have in a saltwater reef tank thus just using liverock for the rest of the rock structure. It didn't sound like anyone over there was completely familiar with it but I was warned in advance of some leeching of phosphates?? <Mmm, possibly... but not often practically> Anyhow, I only have Tonga liverock in my 200gallon and obviously I am using the same freshwater source. My 200gallon has been running since December and I am having to clean my glass maybe once a month and I haven't had to syphon Cyano or brown algae from sand/rocks since March (tank was obviously still cycling a bit?). I'm so happy... the 200gallon seems almost maintenance free aside from frequent water changes. My 90gallon on the other hand has frequent alien green type Cyano, black algae, and burgundy velvety Cyano growing all over the base rock and sand. Luckily my water parameters are still in check and my critters appear to be doing well. Anyhow, it sounds like a number of hobbyists may use this aragonite whitish rock as a cheap form of liverock. My observations would strongly suggest that this type of rock may in fact be an issue. I do have metal halide lighting which seems to grow anything in the tank.... But I am thinking the rockwork has something to do with it as well. <Can, could be tested...> David <Thank you for this input. Bob Fenner>

Turning Dead Rock into Live rock – 5/02/07 Hello, <Hi Steve, Brenda here> My parents gave me a piece of what used to be live rock, that they have had sitting in their house for about 15 years.  They picked it up on a beach in Florida and brought it home with them.  It has a really nice shape to it and I was wondering if there would be any problem adding it to my 200 gallon reef tank? <Dead rock will turn into live rock.  I have used dead rocks several times.  Make sure the rock is clean and you will be fine.> Thank you, Steve <You’re welcome! Brenda>

LR Question, HI... curing, making...    4/12/07 I live in Hawaii and we are planning for a future big tank. In the mean time we picked up a 12g Nano tank to practice water conditions. I put in 7lbs of cured Molokai LR. We might put in some cleaner shrimp, snails, and maybe one fish. To get ready for our big tank I want to store just LR in our open garage for a few months or longer. I also want to convert dead rock to live so I was thinking of using 20 gallon containers. <Can be done> Would a 200gph powerhead be enough flow? <Yes... better by far with a sponge intake screen... to sponsor some mechanical filtration> Do I need to have some sort of filtration system? <This is a very good idea, yes> Can I put the cover on so debris doesn't go in? Should I put sand in there also so I can just swap it to the new tank? <I would do this in separate tanks/containers... easier to keep/clean> Do I need lights for this long a period? <Some folks say no... but at least some ambient light is recommended... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrcurefaqs.htm and the linked files above... BTW, am wondering what the current law/s are re collecting "coral skeletons" in HI (how much material in a given day... how high above the high tide mark...). Please do relate to us your experiences here... as am very interested myself. A hui hou! Bob Fenner, mauka of Kailua-Kona>

Live rock? To be or not to be...  4/10/07 Hey guys, The local fish store in my area has started selling limestone from the local river bed as 'live' rock. They claim that, given a month or so, it will color up with lots of purple and green algae.  Aside from it offering no life forms to further the bio-diversity of the aquarium, what are your thoughts regarding the quality and potential of this rock? <Maybe a word with their Marketing to rename – “To be live rock” – I would not use this rock, it is similar to “ocean rock” that is often used as a base. The key to live rock is its porosity that allows it to support such great biodiversity and micro life. This limestone will be comparatively very dense and it will/does take years to “colour up” and never looks as good or functions as well as live rock. Stick with the Good Stuff> Thanks, you guys are always helpful. <Thanks. Olly>

When does base rock become live?    2/2/07 Hello Crew! <Hello Mark!  Mich here> I have a 75 gallon FOWLR that is over 2 years old.  Originally I started out with some lace rock for the base and added about 75 lbs of live rock over time.   <Very good.> I was told to shoot for closer to 100 lbs of live rock.    <A personal preference here.  Too much can lead to poorer circulation and waste accumulation.  Live rock will benefit most any system.  Adding new pieces of live rock occasionally will increase the diversity and may help buffer the system.> Can I count the original lace rock (about 15 lbs) as live when considering more rock?   <Mmm it is living, but is not of the same quality as true live rock.> It is more dense than live rock so even if I count it maybe I should 'devalue' the weight? <Mmm, a good idea.  Please read here:   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/baserockfaqs.htm  > All of it appears to be encrusted with coralline and other algaes. Thanks, <Welcome.  -Mich> Mark

Reusing Dried Rock...Not Always Good - 09/29/06 Hello, <<Howdy>> I was doing some research on live rock and could not come across anything on this. <<Okay>> I currently bought a saltwater aquarium from a friend who decided to quit the hobby.  I bought the aquarium about 3 or 4 months after he had drained his aquarium, and he left his 30 lbs. of live rock outside in the sun for that amount of time. <<"Live" no more...>> So I took it deciding I might could use it later to maybe seed it with fresh live rock. <<Will never be "the same" again>> Ok so here goes, is the live rock officially dead? <<...as the proverbial doornail>> I assumed it was so I placed it in a garden pond with goldfish outside of my house to let it just sit, but red algae is now starting to grow on the rock. <<Yikes!  Depending on the size of the pond, this rock can raise the pH well beyond what is comfortable/healthy for the goldfish.  At the very least, the (likely) low pH of the pond will have sapped much of the buffering capacity from this rock>> I was just wondering why this is happening, because I'm not expecting anything to happen, and this is freshwater. <<This has nothing to do with whether the water is "salted" or not.  You've seen algae grow on rock in fresh water haven't you?  Same thing happening here...though this rock likely had dead/dried organic matter deep inside that once the rock re-hydrated, is now contributing to a Cyanobacteria bloom on the surface of the rock.  Nothing strange going on here>> I was just going to use it in the new tank after a while to see if it could be seeded from other live rock. <<Could be used as "base" rock (after a few soakings/rinsings), but will never regain the biota it once had and may have little if any buffering capacity left.  Personally, I wouldn’t use this rock to build a captive reef...maybe break up/use for frag bases>> Any information would be great, just wondering why its growing red algae.  What’s going on? <<As explained>> Thanks, Cody <<Regards, EricR>>

Tufa rock and Mexican food <Anthony Calfo here whilst Bob makes his way to the land of Oz and a little magic on the Great Barrier Reef (as I understand it, the "magic" part is an all you can drink beer party after a week of diving)> Thanks for the unbelievably swift response. <that's easy for Bob... he types fast because he is usually incontinent from the amount of water and spicy Mexican food that he consumes> Well, the Tufa isn't in the tank yet so we haven't done any damage. We are growing a prolific crop of BGA though.  <skim aggressively, my friend and increase water flow if possible. A good dark cup of skimmate daily for a couple of weeks will knock out the BGA without you lifting a finger> Not enough $ to bring the LR load up to where it should be, I suppose.  <bummer about that Canadian dollar thingy> Is it safe to let the tank proceed with its cycle without any changes other than to increase the photo-period?  <sure, just go easy on the feeding an bio-load until more live rock possible> To siphon off the copious quantities of water necessary for mechanical removal will really stress my septic system as well as my wallet. The system is only two weeks old at this time with a 2"crushed coral substrate and a few pounds of live base rock. Usual drilled tank (most expensive gift I ever received), sump box, wrong inline pump, 79 degrees water, S.G. 1.023, Sal 31, yada yada yada. Thanks for everything. The improvements are proceeding forthwith (already returned a replacement silent one this AM.) Cheers, Fred. <best in your endeavors, my friend. Anthony Calfo>

Tufa has been removed Thanks for the informative response the other day.  <always welcome> The Tufa rock has been removed, not only from my tank but also from my property. The vendor kindly refunded my purchase price on the returned goods. <a good way to honor/keep a customer> This evening I was again reading the FAQs and noticed with alarm that I have one of the well advertised and less well loved Lifegard pumps. It is presently on its second motor. <yes... the "Not-so-stainless steel" shaft that leaks> It will not receive another. Given that the life expectancy of this circulator is certainly limited I am in the planning stages of replacing the thing. <a great pump for freshwater though> The manufacturers rate the capacity of their pumps in the face of various head losses. Without going to engineering tables, what do you use as a rule of thumb to add head restriction for 90s and other fittings in addition to the easily measured physical lift from sump to tank? <add one foot of head for each elbow, valve connection and ten feet of horizontal run in addition to the height> My tank is 48 x 18 x 20 inches and came equipped with a 1 1/2" standpipe. I built an 18 Gal sump to increase the water volume a bit and to have a place to add essentials. Would you be so kind as to recommend the appropriate MagDrive (as they are available locally) to hustle all of the water around at the required rate? <I believe that there is a mag 1100/1200 that would be quite comparable to your Lifeguard if you are otherwise pleased with the flow> I sincerely enjoy the fruits of your collective labors. Cheers, from B.C., Fred. <thanks kindly, northern friend! Anthony Calfo>

Dead rock  - 09/10/06   Here's a question for you.  I was given 50 lbs of live rock that was just covered with hair and bubble algae.  I boiled the rock to kill all the algae.  Then cured the rock for three months in a tub of seawater.  The rock looks and smells cleaner than anything I have ever seen.  I am now ready to put it in a reef tank.     Any reason not to do this?   Thanks  Rich <<Rich:  Assuming that the rock was kept in tank like conditions (e.g., same water temperature, same salinity), then you should be good to go.  If not, you may have some die off of creatures that can't adapt to the new tank conditions that you place the rocks in.  Best of luck, Roy>> <Roy, the rock was boiled... no life, no waiting... RMF> Utilizing "Ancient" Reef-Based Rock - 08/14/06 Bonjour Folk, <<Howdy>> I live in Texas and my family has a ranch here that has an ancient coral reef from the Permian period. <<Mmm, ancient indeed>> Could I use the ancient coral for the base of my live rock formation and would the porous nature contribute to its ability to host any biodiversity that might migrate from the other live rock? <<I think you could use it, yes...but I have doubts as to it having a "porous nature".  Most of the dry quarried/old coral bed type rock I've ever seen was quite dense/heavy (clogged by limestone sedimentation) as compared to fresh/recent live rock.  Likely useable/more suitable than most other terrestrial rock...but will never be anything like true live rock>> If suitable, how would I go about cleaning it before I introduce it into my tank? <<Hmm...a simple soak followed with a scrub/hosing-off will probably suffice.  You might also want to place some in a container of fresh seawater and a powerhead, let it sit for a couple days, then perform pH/earth element tests to verify its suitability re aquarium use>> Thank you, Zach Alexander <<Quite welcome.  Eric Russell>>

SW Lace Rock  ??    6/14/06 Hi Eric or Crew, <Daniel> I was wondering what are your thoughts on using lace rock in the salt water aquariums. Is there any special way I need to clean it? <Best to really "blast" it with pressurized water to remove organic material (most is dug up out of soil...). See below. I have half of my tank set up with live rock and thought it would be a good contrast to use lace rock on the other side. It is a 135 gallon fish only with live rock ..so far. Any info. would be great - Thanks -daN <Mmm, a chance for a more complete "answer" here... I am not a fan of using, or at least carte blanche endorsing the use of "lace, also often labeled/known as Tufa rocks" for marine aquarium use (though more so for some types of FW... e.g. African Rift Lake...) as the descriptive term is not accurate... Some of this rock is calcium carbonate based (principally), derived from sedimentary processes... perhaps from lime-rich hot springs (we've just installed travertine flooring in part of the house... similarly derived)... other sources for this material include pyroclastic volcanic ash that has solidified into rock... The largely calcareous material may be safe, adding carbonate (raising pH, alkalinity), and the volcanically derived material may be largely inert... composed principally of silicate (SiO2, Silicon Dioxide)... but both may have "other components" that may well be to a degree problematic, toxic. If it were me/mine, I'd either stick with "pure" sources of said decor, or at least have questionable ones thoroughly tested. Bob Fenner>

Tufa Rock, SW use I am looking to add some rock for decoration to my 55g SW tank.  The cheapest stuff I have found is the Tufa rock for 1.69/lb.  Would this rock have any negative effects on the tank? <<Probably no more so than using properly cured "man made" cementous rock.  Both of which I have used before myself...and both of which seem to be the first attachment point for nuisance organisms.  Live rock would be a much better choice, even if only the so called "base" rock.  You can use the Tufa...especially if this is a fish-only system...but even so, spend the bucks for at least a few pounds of live rock to mix in>> The only thing in it right now is a clownfish and a bunch of snails and hermit crabs.  If this would be a bad rock to add what is another type of rock that you would recommend? Thanks, Ryan <<Regards, EricR>>

Live Rock & Base Rock - 3/5/2006 Hi crew, <<Hi Brian.>> I have a 55-gallon FOWLR tank that I am starting to get up and running. My problem is I really don't want to spend any where from three hundred to five hundred dollars on live rock. Can I use just some regular chunks of rock to build up a base and then put the live rock on top of that? <<Sure you can, so long as the material used is suitable for use in aquaria.  The other rock will become live’ in time.>> I want it to look like a lot with out spending a lot. I have seen at my LFS that I can buy base rock from them, but is not much cheaper than the live rock. Any thoughts on what I should do would help out, thanks in advance. <<Perhaps search for cheaper base rock online, or at another retailer.  I see no problem with this plan.  Have fun! Lisa>> Brian

Base Rock/Feeding Corals  - 02/20/06 I have a question about using base rock to help stock an aquarium.  I'm planning on setting up a larger (125-200 gallons) reef system in the near future.  To offset some of the costs I would like to use base rock (probably completely devoid of any life, dry) along with Fiji live rock.  Is there a rule/guideline as to what percentage should or ought to be live versus base?  I want to save money, but don't want to get too cheap and under stock the aquarium with the bacteria and "seed" source the live rock provides. <I would use base rock as the lower layer of the display, no rule of thumb as to weight, all depends on porosity of the rock. In time the base rock will become "live".> I also have a question about feeding corals.  From the articles I have read on WWM it sounds like phytoplankton and other bottled filter feeding formulas aren't the way to go. What then would you recommend for corals such as mushrooms, zooanthids, and gorgonians?  I've been reading but haven't been able to find a clear answer. <I switch between DT's Live Phytoplankton and Cyclop-eeze myself.  Keep in mind that most corals produce much of their own food supply.  Do read FAQ's here for more information.  http://search.isp.netscape.com/nsisp/boomframe.jsp?query=coral+system+lighting&page=1&offset=0&result_url=redir%3Fsrc%3Dwebsearch%26requestId%3D704879f5ada710e7%26clickedItemRank%3D1%26userQuery%3Dcoral%2Bsystem%2Blighting%26clickedItemURN%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.wetwebmedia.com%252Fcorllgtg.htm%26invocationType%3D-%26fromPage%3DNSISPBoom%26amp%3BampTest%3D1&remove_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wetwebmedia.com%2Fcorllgtg.htm> Thank you for your help.  <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Using "Dead" Live Rock - 11/21/05 Hi ,under water gurus! <<Glub, glub...>> I was wondering if I can use some dead live rock and coral skeletons to add to my live rock in a newly set-up reef tank. <<Yep>> Is it a bad idea for a new tank? <<All "live" rock would be best...but you can get by this way too.>> I know about undefended live rock will go thru an algal succession in a lit main display but what about a no light refugium? <<Should be fine.>> How long until it is seeded and full of coralline algae equal to fresh rock? <<Will never equal "fresh" rock in my opinion...but will be colonized by available micro/macro fauna in a few weeks time.>> Thanks a mil, -- Stephan Gaudreau <<Welcome, EricR>>

Found cheap base rock 10/9/05 Hi, I bought a couple of hundred pounds of limestone base rock mined locally here in Florida. It looks great but is definitely heavier per volume, as expected. I know that this type of rook is not as porous as other types used. But I was wondering if there is anything to do to improve its filtration? I've heard of drilling holes to improve surface area but didn't think that this would help lower nitrate levels. I know that nitrate is removed by anaerobic bacteria, and that this requires areas of no oxygen. From what I understand actual live rock aids in the removal of nitrate, but will the type of rock I have be efficient in this manner? <Mmm, not till "life" gets going in/on it> And if not is there anything I can do to the rock to cause it to be more efficient? Thanks Brandon  <Place it "loosely", with lots of space between the pieces, and place some real live rock about it (on top)... to inoculate the base rock... have time (months) go by... Bob Fenner>

Base rock choices 10/7/05 Hi, <Hello> I’m starting a 220g fish only with live rock tank. I have about 50lbs of live rock to put in there and want to fill the rest with base rock. I researched the topic and found that some aquacultured live rock is mined from limestone quarries before being placed in the ocean. I live close to north Florida and there is a place near Ocala that mines pure lime rock and sells it for $25/ton, I’m leaving a link below of the type of limestone that is supposed to be found in that area. Also, there is a link that about the different types of rock used by companies that cultivate live rock.  This link shows the comparative properties of Ocala limestone on a chart. It says that Ocala limestone has a PH of 7.5, and I wasn't sure if this would lower my tank PH to this level or if the rock would dissolve at this level. Will this be safe for a marine aquarium, and will it more than likely have live rock qualities over time given that it seems like what most aquaculture companies use as their base rock? I plan to presoak it for awhile and test for ph problems, but is there any chemicals I should be concerned with leeching from the rock? <Should be fine> Also I plan to have a heavily stocked tank. I don’t plan on keeping any large messy predators, just mainly a lot of small docile fish (chromis, anthias, butterflies, etc). if I had say 200lbs of base rock, 100lbs of live rock, and a large protein skimmer, would you recommend a deep sand bed for my tank. I’m thinking that the skimmer and live rock should keep down nitrates and be adequate filtration, but didn’t know if deep sand bed was recommended? <Heavily stocked with what? I'd start with just a half inch or so... and add if you find your mix calls for more> Thanks for the help Brandon http://www.dep.state.fl.us/geology/geologictopics/rocks/ocala_limestone.htm  http://www.hccfl.edu/br/asprograms/aquaculture/files/F00CE52705F64671B8C98D0868BFB18F.pdf  <Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Base Rock Query 4.26.2005 What do you call "dead" live rock and can I sell it? I have about 150 lbs of it. <Dead Rock is an expression that is applied to Live Rock that has been dried, and the symbiotic life has perished.  It can be re-colonized, but can take years.  Many aquarists purchase this dead rock/base rock to use in refugiums, etc.  Good luck, Ryan>

Dead Rock Cure? Hi, Read the FAQs, didn't' see anything about curing completely dead rock (as in been in my garage during blizzards for about 5 months). Can I add in 10-20 lbs of this rock (do a scrub job in the bathtub first?) every 3 weeks into my 150 gallon display tank (has live soft coral, ~150 lbs of live rock with coralline, no fish)? Or must I recure it (no extra skimmer right now) in separate tubs with vigorous water changes, etc. The website rocks!  <Yes, I think a scrub job and rinse will work. I'd put the scrubbed rock in a pail of fresh water for a few days and then pick the rock out and see if has an odor, if not, put it in the tank. James (Salty Dog)> 

Live Rock Theory? Hello WWM crew, <Good Morning> I have a question about expanding on the live rock in my tank. First, I am a devout follower of the "more the merrier" theory when it comes to live rock, adding a few extra lbs whenever the budget permits. (125g tank with about 150lbs of live rock, & counting) Now, it is my understanding that any porous chunk of "dead rock" or even perhaps dried, real coral that stores sell as ornamentation (coral reference was just for the sake of example, no need for the lecture) will "seed" over time and become live rock when placed in a tank with abundant live rock.....am I correct? <Yes>  If so, if I add dead rock (which can be cost effective) on weeks where budget does not permit live rock, am I still (over time) increasing my live rock base/filtration/ability to sustain a heavier bio load? <Yes>  Or, simply giving the same rock inhabitants extra housing, but not increasing the aforementioned things? Finally, if I am on the right path, is it wise/safe/otherwise to add a batch of very porous, red lava rock that I got from a friend who recently broke down a freshwater set-up and was using it as decoration? Or is this freshwater rock a completely different animal?  <For some reason the lava rock doesn't seem to work very well, probably too porous.><<Too smooth, chemically inert... almost entirely made of silicate... RMF>> You are all superheroes. Your friend in CT <James (Salty Dog)> 

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

Rock Compatibility Thank you so much for making a website like this where beginners like me can come to ask specific questions!  I have a question regarding the entry of limestone into a marine aquarium.  I cannot afford to fill my tank with live rock, as my local dealer suggests, and am in need of a cheaper alternative, so I came across some native stone.  I live in Missouri and limestone is a natural stone of the area, with it's nooks, crannies, and holes I would think it would make for a good quasi-reef environment, but I'm not sure how the water will react chemically with the limestone. <In general should be fine... is likely almost entirely composed of calcium carbonate> Are there any cautions here, if so is there anything I can do that would enable the rock to be put in and keep the water safe for the fish ?  (fish only tank) Kevin Sievers <I would soak this rock in water for a few days, measure the resultant pH of the water... and go ahead and use it... it is very likely of marine origin! Bob Fenner>

Limestone in tank Dear crew, <Hi Ryan, MacL here with you tonight.> I have an established 55G fish only marine tank, The tank was started off in a 20G that had around 15lbs of nice Fiji LR.  I put in probably 70lbs of limestone when it moved into the 55 which grew very lovely coralline algae probably covering 65% of the limestone (took around 6 months).  Now my tank has turned to pure hair algae that will not go away no matter how little of light and food I give the tank. <Youch!!> Now I am wondering if the limestone was a bad thing (seemed like a good idea at the time). <The big thing about the limestone is that its not alive like live rock is. The coralline growing on it is but the live rock would be better as a denitrifier.>I have done much to combat this plague I thought I would spare you the details, I just want to be sure that limestone is not evil. <Its not evil its just not optimal if that makes sense.> Thankful, Ryan King

Red lava rock? hi, <Hello there> Thank you for the response about my lighting and gorgonian question. <Welcome> In the past I had bought some porous rock from the local fish store to supplement the live rock, and it's done very well and is covered with polyps and coralline algae.  I recently bought some more rock - but got a porous red lava rock without realizing it wasn't what I had bought originally.  Before I introduce it into the tank, I was hoping to get an opinion if this is ok or a mistake!  This is a 30 gallon reef tank w/ lots of polyps, soft corals, clownfish, pajama cardinals, etc. Thanks, Ben <... Have seen/experienced red lava rock that was both fine for marine aquarium use AND other types that were disastrous chemically, physically... I would at the very least "do a bio-assay" with boiling a bit of water with some of this rock in it, letting it cool, and subjecting some fish and non-fish life to its presence for a few weeks before placing it in my/your main/display tank... You can get/use test gear for iron content... The real, short answer is I would not use it. Bob Fenner> Future denitrification in dead rock. Hi I have one short question. Can (or will) live rock that has been dead be fully functional again? I understand it can when it comes to invertebrates (if other live rock is present) and nitrification, but how about denitrification? Thank you for your help. Anders <Yes... does become repopulated, function as a denitrifying field quite quickly... often within weeks. And re-populated with other life from some live live rock within a few to several months. Bob Fenner>

Quarry rock for base rock? Hello, I live right down from a quarry that produces blue limestone. My question is can I use it for base rock under my live rock?  << Not sure why or if it is really blue, but I wouldn't.  If it is straight aragonite (Calcium Carbonate CaCO3) then you are fine, otherwise it really isn't worth all the risks. >> I'm new and just starting up and can use some help on this matter. Found your website great place by the way! <<  Blundell  >>

Don't Use Mystery Rock Hi, <Hey, Scott F. here with you.> I have been searching for days now and can't seem to find the answers but I'm sure they are somewhere! My partner recently bought home a great piece of dead coral rock, the same as I already have in my aquarium, which he found in someone's backyard  Mine, I got from the beach, and didn't treat it at all.  This is a little suspect not knowing where it has been or come from so how should I treat it? <Personally, I would not use any rock of unknown origin in your system.  The fact that you don't know where it has been is enough to avoid using altogether.  Rock collected from local beaches or even from the backyard, could have been exposed to untold contaminants and pesticides, etc.  It would take a lot of careful preparation before you can be sure that the rock is safe to use.> I have broken it up into useable pieces and soaked them in freshwater outside for a day and hosed them off well to get the dirt out of them. What else do I need to do before I put them in my aquarium? Sun soak (only its overcast here)? Bleach and then dechlorinate or what? <Yes, those would be some of the procedures that I would use.  But, I would soak for a much longer time, before and after bleaching.  Once again, I am not in favor of using materials of unknown origin.  The amount of money you save by not purchasing quality rock from a reliable source (i.e. your LFS) is insignificant compared to the potential loss of livestock from contaminated, yet free rock!> Would this sort of dead coral rock do anything to my pH?  I am having a problem with keeping it up, it drops from like 8.3 to about 8.0 over a couple of days. It got way too low.  I wasn't monitoring it and have been getting it up and trying to keep it up ever since (a month now). Alkalinity is 10.75 which I thought was ok (between 8-12) so why does my pH keep dropping? <There are many reasons for pH drops.  Some of the more common ones are a build up of organics in the water, excessive CO2, and overcrowding.  There are many other possible causes.  Don't forget the day/night fluctuation that occurs in pretty much every system.  Do check your pH at various times during the day.> Also, I have a bully damsel which I have caught and put in a floating colander this morning to separate him from some new fish so they can settle in. How long is it reasonable to leave him in here? <There is no set length of time required to "reform" your damsel.  Fish, like people, are individuals, and such a "time-out" may or may not have any effect at all. Best to consider a larger tank, or reshuffling of decor in your existing tank.> I have been told to find him a new home but am loathe to, as he was my first fish and has survived some nasty incidents with me (initial tank dilemmas) and come through even stronger (he owns the tank not me!). He doesn't attack me at all, but has it in for new fish. So will days be long enough and ok for him, or are we talking weeks and will he manage that or should I invest in another tank? <To be quite honest with you, I'd consider investing in another tank.  Damsels are notoriously territorial and aggressive once established.  The likelihood of him "coming around" after this isolation period is remote, in my opinion.  I must commend you for not just using him as a cycling vehicle and wanting to keep him.  Many people think fishes are expendable, but as you know, they are living creatures and deserve our best efforts!> In a fish only tank is dead coral rock for reef ok with some live rock like a few pieces or do I need to have more live than dead? <A mix of live and dead rock is fine, but not the aforementioned "mystery" rock.> The dead rock I have is getting nice green algae on it, but no brown, or hair, or anything. <Keep up whatever doing to keep those nasty algae at bay.> What type of fish that eats algae can I have with damsels? <Tough question.  Fishes such as the famous "lawnmower" blenny might be a good choice.  As it might be less likely be harassed because it spends much of his time at the bottom reaches of the tank.> Sorry for all the questions.  I figured I'd get 'em in, in one hit! Thanks heaps. <No problem with the questions.  That's why we are here!  Good luck with your damsel and use your "mystery" rock for bookends instead of tank decor.  Regards, Scott F.>

Don't Use "Mystery Rock" (Pt. 2) Scott F. <Scott here, Captain> To your response: I don't have access to rock. My LFS doesn't sell it at all and the nearest other places are 5 hours drive away. <Bummer...Is mail order an option for you?> So if I want to risk it, can you possibly tell me (even if you don't recommend it) what I should do to treat it? How long should I soak, bleach and how strong, dechlorination process etc.? I have no idea what to do exactly. <Well, I'd start with a week or so of just plain old freshwater soaking, followed by a thorough rinse. Then, I'd use a couple of teaspoons of bleach per gallon of water, and leave the rock in the water another several days. Follow that with another thorough rinse with clean freshwater. Then, I'd soak it about a week in freshwater again, to which you've added some commercial dechlorinator. Finally, rinse it again with freshwater, and you should be ready to go. You cannot be too conservative when treating rock from unknown sources. This technique will work to remove lots of organics from the rock, but it won't remove  (at least 100% effectively) any possible pesticides, etc. If you really want to be sure, you could run a small filter in the container with Polyfilter, which excels at removing heavy metals and other substances from the water. keep in mind, however, that if the rock is composed of toxic metals, etc, no filter media will do the trick...Make sure what you're dealing with here.> I only have the four damsels at present. If the rock once treated was going to be a problem, how long before I could expect to see symptoms of the problem, days weeks months? <I honestly could not say. High concentration of toxic materials could kill quickly, but other substances would be toxic over time...> The damsel was in captivity for two days then released in the dark of night, and since then is somewhat lower on the ranking scheme of things so it is a bit more peaceful and pleasant, for now. <Good to hear! Best of luck! Regards, Scott F.>

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

Throwing away lava rock Good afternoon WWM crew! <Already? Time flies!> I have read your website religiously for a few months and have found it invaluable.  I have a 55 gallon tank with a 10 gallon sump underneath, and have had my tank running for almost 3 months now.  I am definitely on a budget, so I have tried to spend just what is necessary, which has sometimes led me to cut corners. And what I have found in my short stint in this hobby is you cannot cut corners. <Generally not w/o ramifications> One of the corners I cut was in the rock department. I didn't have the money when I started for live rock / base rock.  So instead I bought red lava rock and cut caves and holes through it myself (I know, I know, I can hear you groaning).  Through my reading on your website and talking with my LFS representatives, I have learned that this was not a good choice.  But just yesterday I learned that it can actually be causing chemicals to leech into my tank (iron, copper).  So I decided to discard the last cut corner and replace all of the lava rock with a base rock / live rock combination.  So I thoroughly cleaned the tank, vacuumed the sand, and added 21 pounds of base rock and 10 pounds of live rock (plus another 1 pound piece of live rock I had had in the tank for a couple of months).  I then ran all of my water tests including a copper test kit that I had just bought. It is a Red Sea test kit and the greens on the scale for 0 and .1 ppm are so close to the same color that I cannot tell which I have (I have never added any copper and have always used RO water).  So I thought I would just run some activated carbon to clear any traces.  But then I had the heart-pounding realization, that if I do have any copper in my tank, it is already in my sand, my 1 lb piece of live rock, and the $100 of rock I just bought. <Mmm, but not much (copper)... I wouldn't be overly concerned here> I would like to have some invertebrates soon, and potentially down the road some corals.  So here is my question (finally you say).  If the level really is .1 ppm and I run activated carbon, will I be able keep invertebrates? corals? <Yes> or will need to get rid of my substrate, rocks and bio-balls and start over (because I think then I would just quit)?  Is there another test you can recommend that would provide a more accurate reading so I can know if I even need to be concerned?  Are there other things I need to be concerned with in this scenario that I haven't even thought of? <I applaud your concern, but not to worry... what little copper might be in the water and substrate presently will complex, be absorbed by the new LR. Again, not to worry. Bob Fenner> Sorry for the long winded email and thanks in advance for your help.

Lace rock testimonial? 3/26/04 Hi Crew, I wanted to reply back to the question below, but couldn't figure out how.......maybe you can help.. ----------- I have personal experience using "Lace Rock", (FYI: Its a lava rock that has a lot more "pores" then regular weight lava rock)..... I have used it in both my 165 and 85 gallon reefs as a base rock. They work great as base rocks. <Hmmm... there are advantages and disadvantages to using such dead rock, the latter (disadvantages) including the fact that the matter is uncolonized and in many tanks will first be settled often by nuisance organisms. Furthermore, studies have shown that "culturing" live rock really never does compare to wild rock in terms of quality/bio-diversity. Still... it does have places/uses> I have tons and tons of worms (typical small feathers) "growing" on them. They are not calcareous, and thus no "boring" animals will be found. <this is not correct... the rock is calcareous> They will grow various forms of algae, but I have yet to find coralline type on mine (been in the tanks for approx: 1 year)..... <this is a common problem... slow to colonize> They don't leach (as long as they are cleaned before use). <yikes! another incorrect and unqualified statement. These and any mined rocks practically are of variable quality. In some areas of given deposits, there can be considerable contamination> Bleached, sun dried, and then rinsed out multiple times.....(and repeat). I don't think boiling them would hurt..... <agreed> They will not/not good host anemones or soft corals, due to the extreme sharp (even down to a microscopic level) edges on the rock. <this is incorrect... and a bizarre statement> As an overall rock to use as base/foundation for "live" rock. I personally recommend this rock, as it is cheap, available everywhere, and most important (for me), has zero impact on the destruction of natural coral reefs. <I'm not sure why/where this testimonial is coming from... but it is grossly in error. This last statement most of all. Lace rock is mined from ancient reef formations which are a non-renewable resource (dead). Live rock is a living and renewable resource of vast quantity/potential. Getting the facts straight :) Anthony>  

Lace rock" and "holey limestone" 3/27/04 Greetings crew, While performing my daily ritual of reading the daily FAQ's I noticed Chet Andrews question about lace rock. Im thinking it may be what I have leftover from my freshwater days, and if I could chunk it in my 125 FOWLR it would be nice. The stuff I have is gathered locally (central Texas) and is sold as "holey limestone". Please see attached photo. I still have the 3 pieces pictured, and thought they would be fun for my wrasse and pseudopod to play in....that is if its ok to put them in. Thanks!  Emo <using terrestrial mined rocks is a matter of variable risk. Even with carbonate substrates like this, their "safety" is not assured as some are of risk depending on where in the deposit they are minded from aside from issues of pollution from land-based/human activities. If you intend to use it... test it in a QT tank with a hardy fish first perhaps. Anthony>

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