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FAQs about Live Rock Placement 1

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

Related FAQs: LR Placing 2, LR Life Identification, Selecting, Shipping/Moving, Curing LiverockLighting, Live Rock in GeneralWater Quality, Live Rock Studies in Fiji Collaboration & ChartsSumps, RefugiumsFaux Rock, Base Rock

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

Rock base structure  4/26/07 Thank all of you for your knowledge and help. I believe I read somewhere that some people use concrete blocks to build up height under the live rock. Is this possible to do without putting any toxins in the tank? I am setting up a 180 gal and would rather not have to use a ton of live rock to achieve the height I would like. And when I heard or read about the cinderblocks I thought that would be good for flow also. Any thoughts or confirmation would be great. <Have heard of this used but it is very hard to get the complete (and accurate) chemical make-up of the concrete used. This is a very big risk and has potential for causing great chemical imbalance in such a controlled environment. I would use "Ocean Rock" or an egg crate structure - both serve the same purpose for around the same price, however, a lot safer and trusted> Thanks keep up the great work Lee <Thank you, it was a worthy question but there are better, aquarium specific solutions. Have fun with the new tank, Olly> Rockwork!  Thanks Scott for you help.  <You're quite welcome!>  How can I prevent the anaerobic spots in the sand? I had crabs, snails, and some sand shifting stars and it is hard to do anything with the sand under the rock. I heard about how some people elevate their rock with pvc pipe. How could I do this? Do the rocks hang and/or are they set on the pipes?  <Most people who use PVC set them on a "framework" of PVC sections. Really easy.>  Either way, I don't want the pipes to be noticeable and take away from the tank's looks. Do you have any pictures or anything that might help me out? Is there anything that you would do different? Thanks so much for your help and quick reply, Andy  <I don't have any pictures that I am aware of on the WWM site to refer you to. Anthony discusses a variety of techniques to suspend rocks for display purposes in his must-have "Book of Coral Propagation". Personally, at this stage of the game, I'd just keep employing some substrate-stirring animals, and providing good water flow in and among the rocks in your tank. These practices should to the trick. Stay at it! Regards, Scott F>

Stacking live rock, configuration of corals & misc questions Hi guys (and gals), great site!  Thanks so much for this invaluable resource.  Loved Bob's book, too. <that makes two of us> I have set up my first reef tank and included a picture of my tank.  Here's the specs: 55 gal tank (4) 65w retrofit power compact lights (2 blue & 2 white) Appx. 40 lbs. Fiji live rock 60lbs live sand/aragonite mix Remora AquaC pro skimmer (love it!) Penguin 300 filter w/ 2 BioWheels & 2 baskets (one filled with PhosGuard phosphate control pellets because of a weird diatom outbreak and the other filled with bioballs) - would you change what I have these filled with? (3) 250gph powerheads Yellow Tang False Percula Clown Blue Damsel Camel Shrimp (I'll get to that) Blood shrimp 5 small snails A few Blue Mushrooms (doing great) Featherduster (doing great) Green Star Polyps (doing great) Heliofungia Plate Coral (doing great) Open Brain Coral (doing great) Finger Leather Coral (doing great) Elegance coral (don't get me started... "easy" coral my a##) From the picture, if I have ID'd any of these corals incorrectly, please let me know. Do I have enough lighting for all of these corals? <if the LPS corals are being fed weekly, then I'd say you have enough light> Ok, the picture shows an overview of my tank.  My live rocks seem like they are stacked funny, after looking at pics of many other tanks on the internet.  I have stacked them in a way that no rocks are touching the glass.   <this is very important... never stack rocks against the back wall (or any)... it stifles water flow severely and leads to detritus accumulation that fuels algae and handicaps water quality. I describe this at length in my "Book of Coral Propagation" and in "Reef Invertebrates" co-authored with Bob> I did this for ease of cleaning the glass, and because I didn't know if it was safe to do so.  (I was afraid of the glass cracking).   <good call> The problem is, with all of the space behind the rocks, the fish love to swim back there & don't come out front much.   <not the only reason... if the tank is near to a door or window (or other foot traffic pattern) where they get daily disturbances (startled)... that is your reason> I would like to move all of my rocks so they are stacked against the back glass to get the fish to swim in the front more.  Also, this would give me more "open sand" room for my corals.   <it would be a bad move IMO> From reading your site, it looks like the plate, elegance and brain corals should be positioned in the sand away from the rocks and about 10" from each other. <quite correct> My concerns: 1)  Will this disrupt my bio-system, moving all of these rocks around? <I don't see why... in a healthy system. No worries.> 2)  How do you clean the glass if the rocks are against it?   <exactly - a problem> Is it Ok to move the rocks a little to clean back there weekly? <do avoid> 3)  How do you position the powerheads to avoid circulation dead-spots in the tank? <a tough question... powerheads really are a poor way to move water in large aquariums. I wrote an article describing this challenge and offering a solution here on wetwebmedia.com (Closed Loop Manifold). Else, you need to have enough of them converging to produce random turbulent flow near 20X turnover per hour (tank volume)> 4)  Is the leather coral Ok up on the rocks like I have it? Do you have any suggestions on stacking? <do visit local or regional aquarium societies to see pictures and visit some great local tanks and fellow aquarists... really one of the best ways to get free information> Also, any suggestions for more corals or plants to put on the rocks with the lights I have?  I see these pictures of tanks on the internet with rocks just covered with inverts & corals, but don't know what to get. <the unnatural crowding of unnatural neighbors is a challenge if not problem for many hobbyists (the infamous "garden reef aquariums). Most of those tanks don't look that way 2+ years down the road. Please do maintain 10" between corals to allow for growth and reduce aggression (chemical)> until it hides in a rock, remove the rock & place it in a bowl of high salinity water until it comes out.  I fear this will be cruel to the shrimp and don't want to take this course if this is true. <yes... bait with food and dim lights instead> Last question:  I read on your site to feed the corals Now a couple of misc. questions.  I bought the camel shrimp on a whim at a LFS thinking it was in the cleaner shrimp family.  Now I know it feeds on coral polyps.  It doesn't bother my corals yet, but I don't want to take that chance.  How in the world do I catch it?  I have tried everything.   <do a keyword search on our site (google search tool on the home/index page) for "trapping" fish and invertebrates. We describe using a bag within a bag trick to lure them in with bait. Works great!> I read somewhere to wait with a baster "finely minced meaty foods".  What exactly does this mean?   <meats of marine origin (krill, plankton, shrimp, clams, etc) to the size of mince (1/4" bits or smaller)... else larger food can be stung and "eaten" by the coral, but regurgitated later at night and the coral slowly starves anyway. Correct particle size is crucial for corals> I give them all (except the leather) brine shrimp a couple times a week, which they seem to love.  I feed the open brain at night, which is also when the blood shrimp likes to eat.  Is this enough? <brine shrimp is recommended as a staple food... it really is weak, barren and hollow. Animals can/do starve to death on it. Please use more dense and nutritious fare like Mysid shrimp or Pacifica plankton (gammarus if you can find it ) from your LFS freezer.> Sorry for the long email, thanks again for the advice ahead of time.  If there is ever a need for monetary donations to your site, where could I go to get info?  Would love to help out if I could.  -  Rick Light <thanks kindly... while we all are volunteers, the site does take donations on the Amazon honor System at http://s1.amazon.com/exec/varzea/pay/T3P5J4CVWEJER0/104-7018091-5491941 your success if reward enough though! Best of luck, Anthony>

Adding live rock to an existing tank - 2/11/04 Hey guys Quick question for you this morning. <Okiday> If I have about 40 lbs. of so called "precured" LR shipped to me 2nd day air, do you think it would be safe enough to add about 20 lbs. each to already established reef tanks. <I personally would let sit in a tub with fresh saltwater mixed with your tank water for about 2 weeks or more. Add a heater and power head to the holding/cycling tank as well. Always a good idea to "quarantine" new additions regardless. There could be residual die off due to shipping stress. See more info here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/liverock1.htm Pay special attention to the section on curing> (55/90 gal each with about 1 lb/gal LR already). Also, if I am in the process of removing the bioballs from the wet/dry and wanting to add some LR to my sump would it be best to use the newer LR or the stuff that's been in the tank for a couple years and put all the new LR in the display area. <Whatever is easier in my experience. See here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bioballfaqs.htm> Thanks - Kevin <Thank you for being part of it all ~Paul> Curing And Placing Live Rock... Thanks for your great site!  (My apologies in advance for the length of my email) <No apologies needed! That's why we're here! Scott F. with you today!> I have just purchased 45lbs of "Caribbean live rock" for my fish only tank from Liveaquaria.com.  I have not received the live rock yet, but I have a few questions (want to make sure I do everything right).  I plan on curing the rock in a Rubbermaid tub with a powerhead and water heated to about 80 degrees.  I do not have an extra protein skimmer and do not want to remove the one from my tank.  Will I be okay without the protein skimmer, and should I add a different filter? (I have an extra HOT magnum and an emperor BioWheel) <Not a bad idea. You certainly can get away without a skimmer, but a more aggressive water change schedule is advised> The Liveaquaria.com curing guide advises twice weekly 100% water changes - is this too much?  The guide also advises to get rid of "critters" by placing the rock in 1.035 - 1.040 water for one minute, letting the critters leave the rock, picking the ones you want and discarding the rest.  My husband thinks this may cause too much harm to the rock.  What do you think? <Yep...I don't like that idea. It certainly can work, but I think that it might better to elevate the rock on eggcrate or some other platform to allow the "bad guys" an exit...> Last question.  My fish like to dig.  I have read previous posts advising placing egg crate just under the surface of the substrate to prevent the fish from digging and toppling the rocks. Won't this make the bottom of the tank (2 inches of crushed shells) too hard to clean?  I can't add a clean up crew (have triggers) so I need to vacuum the substrate on a regular basis.  Would you suggest going with or without the egg crate?  Thank you so much for your help! Brandy <Well, the safest bet is to lay down the rock first, then to place the substrate down. In your case, I'd just be very careful in setting the rock down in the most stable configuration possible. Personally, I think that the eggcrate idea is more of a hassle, for the benefit that it can provide. Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F> Tired Arms Hello, Do you guys sell or know of any equipment I could use to remove large decorative rocks from a 3 foot deep custom aquarium for routine bleaching? <Not really specific-duty or aquarium items, but perhaps some that are meant for other work - there are large grabbers for picking up trash, etc. that could be used for this... pull the rock from the bottom, bring to surface and then remove by hand... not sure anything short of an articulated, mechanical hand could move heavy rocks out of the water. But still... not sure about 'routine bleaching' - isn't this like a yearly event? Personally, I'd just have some friends over and use their arms too, perhaps with some of those Tunze long-sleeved gloves.> Al
Clearwater Aquariums
<Cheers, J -- >

Too much LR? Hey Bob, take a look at this picture if you can see it well enough.. I was wondering do you think I have too much rock? I was thinking that maybe I have too much and it may be impeding my water flow. What do you think? <Does seem to be "creeping" a bit too much into the foreground to suit me esthetically. You might try re-stacking what you have (larger pc.s on the bottom) with enough gaps to suit you. Bob Fenner>

Live Rock Stacking Revisited - 6/28/03 Anthony: <cheers, mate> I just read your reply to someone asking a LR stacking question. I have a couple questions/issues here.  I will put excerpts from your reply in quotes 1-"never atop deep loose sand" - as in DSB?!?  I have a 4-6" DSB in my 55, if I stack it "on or near the tank bottom" I will surely bury a good portion of my LR.  What gives? <Building a reef atop a fluid bed of shifting sand is frightening... an accident waiting to happen with any common digging fish or invertebrate that mines a residence under the reef like pistol shrimp, gobies, damsels, serpent starfish, etc. Rest assured that much of the living reef is naturally buried in the sand and has a somewhat different and entirely useful set of biotic faculties. But again, we are most concerned with the rockscape collapsing and crushing animals or breaking your tank> 2-"never against the back of the aquarium (always build the reef 3-4" min away from any aquarium wall..." - Oh man, I am 0 for 2!   <very important indeed my friend. Rather critical for long-term success to prevent nutrient and detritus buildup> As you a well aware, a standard 55 has about 11.5" front to back. Now, minus 3-4" from front & back and now were talking 3.5-5.5" left!   <understood... and many reefers unfortunately discover after the fact that 55 gallons tanks are next to impossible to use for traditional reef aquaria. Squat 50 gallon breeders (36X18X18) is much better> I *only* have 39lbs LR at the moment and I am already crossing the line here.  This leaves you will all tiny pieces of LR to choose from.  How on Earth does one keep 1-2 lbs per gallon?   <the rule is loose and largely dependent on aesthetic preference. Really dictate by the density of the product you buy> Thanks, Rich Ps:  I hope your signature hand is nimble!!!  Are you tingling all over, or what?!? <heehee... we have got through 300 books this morning... taking an e-mail and lunch break <G>. I think I hear the whip cracking in the background <G>. Back to work :) Ciao, bub. Anthony>

Avoiding A Sandstorm! FIRST I WANT TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS SITE. IT HAS HELPED ME SO MUCH IN THE PLANNING PHASE OF MY SYSTEM. <Glad to hear that! We are really happy to bring it to you!> OK,  WHAT I UNDERSTAND FROM SOME OF THE READING I'VE DONE ON WWM ABOUT SOUTHDOWN IS THAT YOU SHOULD POUR THE SAND INTO THE TANK AND EITHER COVER IT WITH PLASTIC OR POUR THE WATER ON A BUCKET TO AVOID A "SAND STORM". MY QUESTION IS THAT I HAVE ALSO READ THAT YOU SHOULD BUILD YOUR REEF ON THE BOTTOM OF THE TANK TO AVOID ANY DEAD SPOTS AND FUTURE SHIFTS THAT COULD CAUSE THE POSSIBLE DESTRUCTION OF YOUR REEF. SO, HOW SHOULD I GO ABOUT ADDING A 5" DSB WHILE BUILDING MY ROCK STRUCTURE? THANKS, NICK <Well, Nick- I'd keep it simple: Place the rock in the bare tank the way you like it, then pour the sand directly onto the bottom. Unfortunately, the "sand storm" is usually inevitable, regardless of the precautions that you take! However, the cloud will clear rather quickly, and you'll b in good shape with your new DSB! Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

ETSS skimmers and live rock placement... Kevin, Thanks a lot for the info.  I bought the ETSS skimmer.  I am looking forward to trying it.  This is definitely a better quality skimmer than I have had before.  I was also interested to find out it has little bioballs inside it. Do you know why? I know what bioballs do in a wet/dry filter...is the same thing here?). <They're not for bio filtration, they actually control the consistency of the foam. I'm not sure if you're supposed to add more to make it drier or vise-versa...> I have a few setup questions.  I am getting ready to start setting up my 135 tank.  I have read a lot about setting up a new reef, but I am not sure about something.  Should I put down an initial layer of foundation lace rock and some basic live rock BEFORE adding the substrate or should I put down a shallow layer of sand before adding the foundation rock?  I have read where you  shouldn't have deep sand under your rock, but I didn't know if you should put the initial rock directly on the glass bottom.  Also if I shouldn't put sand under the initial rock, would it help to put it on egg crate instead of on the glass? <I'd install the sandbed first. Cut pvc pipe pieces about a half an inch to an inch shorter than the depth of the bed. Stick these pieces all over the place in the sand where the rock will sit to prevent the structure from tumbling down should something dig underneath.> I read one article where somebody built a PVC "framework" (sort of like a couple of shelves) with egg crate on the bottom of it to hold the rock. This guy even drilled holes in the live rock and strapped it to this PVC frame in spots to make it better.  Have you heard of or done this? <Yep, some people really like to anchor the rock like that. It's a great way to build complex structures like caves and the like, but you're all done if you need to move any of the rocks.> I want my rock to be secure, but this sounds pretty complex (I am a very detailed person...my wife calls it anal, and I would probably drive myself nuts trying to make this perfect :-)  <Hehe, yeah, no need to go through all that. Just set the base pieces on the pvc pipes and you'll be all set.> Sorry, for all the questions, but when I set up my 55 gallon reef, it was my first attempt at anything like this.  I know I made a few mistakes, this new tank is a big jump for me, and I want to do my best to set it up right at the beginning. <You're on the right track!> I really appreciate all of your help and patience with novices like me trying to learn more. <Enjoy and good luck! -Kevin> Paul

Live rock placement Hi, I wanted to know the WWM's opinion on something.  Should my live rock that I'm going to put in my seventy five be all to the front with 1/2 inch close to the glass or all the way to the back of the tank?  What do you think? <Whatever arrangement that is pleasing to you. I would leave 3-4" between the rock and glass for cleaning and water flow. As well as many tunnels and caves for the fish. See here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/biotope.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aquascaping.htm http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrplacingfaqs.htm> by the way my yellow tang doesn't scratch no more and his scale came back I think me chasing him with a net made him secret extra slime and that removed the parasite he's much better though <Good for you (and your tang) Maybe think of using a quarantine tank next time??? Some thing to think about, Don>

Building Live Rock Frames  4/27/03 What are live rock frames made out of and can you teach me how to make them. <I found this article and think it will help you.   http://www.harboraquatics.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Store_Code=HA&Screen=Aquascape   Hope this helps!  Phil>

Stacking Live Rock  5/1/03 you didn't answer my question.<ok... well the link I sent you shows how to stack the live rock in a safe manner so it doesn't fall and crush the fish.  What would you like to know about the stacking?  Phil>

- Placement of Live Rock - Hey first I just want to say good job on your work and I've heard that you cant put live rock on top of live sand or any substrate if this is true what can I use and where can I find it and also when I start to stacking my live rock in the tank will I need some kind of glue if so what is the name of it and where can I find it and what is the average price for both of these items? Thank You <I've never heard this "can't stack live rock on live sand" bit and have set up my own tanks this way many times. I wouldn't be concerned. As for stacking plans, you can drill live rock and secure it with plastic rods or wire ties if your structure is unstable. There is more information about that here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrplacingfaqs.htm Cheers, J -- >

Supporting live rock Respected Sir                  Well sir I have a problem. In your live rock faq section I have read that u can't put live rock directly on sand.  Now I had already set up a tank with undergravel filter so please help me to solve this problem. Waiting for your reply. MONTY <Hi Monty, I suggest following the WetWebMedia articles from the start so you can avoid these problems.  Most of these issues are preventable if you stick with the system. You can put the rock on the substrate or supported on pipe. I don't recommend undergravel filters. Craig>

PVC rock support Hey Gang! Thoughts of well being to you all.                        After receiving the Book of Coral Propagation, I am wondering about the Reef support concept with PVC pipe, instead of attaching live rock with plastic cable ties, has anyone drilled 1/2" holes in rock to utilize the pvc pipe as a spindle with which to "stack" vertically, or, diagonally the rock in various configurations? <Yep, that can work. Maybe bigger than 1/2" if needed.> In a tank that is 18" front to back, the spindle idea would/could eliminate the "shelf" space, allowing a more slender rock formation it seems. Is there any conceptual continuity here? (<---Frank Zappa lyrical quote!) Thanks for all that y'all you do here! Scott in Denver <Sure, go for it!  Craig> Re: live rock placement 4/11/03 Respected sir Anthony...Welcome to lord of saltwater aquariums. <you are such a charmer, Monty <G>> In your live rock section you have said that you can't keep live rock directly on sand. As I already have tank with undergravel filter. So please help me. MONTY <in the aquarium, we simply want to reduce the amount of surface area on the sand smothered by live rock. A little bit is OK... but avoid excessive restriction of the surface (and function of your UG filter) by using just a few large strategic rocks as founding pieces upon which to straddle or span other live rocks used to build your reef structure. Also try to avoid stacking rocks against the back glass of the aquarium as this severely restricts water flow around the reef. Kind regards, Anthony>

Reef timber (structure for LR support) There used to be a product called "reeftimber".  It was like stackable "white egg crate" that you could use to arrange your live rock in a reef tank. I used to have a flyer on it: however, I can't seem to find the product anymore.  Do you know about it?  Thanks ---- Corey  <I've never heard of this product before and can't find anything on the web.  You can achieve the same effect with pvc pipe and plastic cable ties.  Read here for more: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/AquascaFAQs.htm   Cody>

Reeftimber product There used to be a product called "reeftimber".  It was like "white stackable egg crate" that you could custom design & use to arrange your live rock & corals in a reef tank.  I used to have a flyer on it, but can't seem to find the product anymore.  Do you know about it.  Thanks ----- Corey   <do recall seeing it around... MACNAs and the like. Haven't seen it for a while. Do check the message boards. We'll post this on our daily FAQs perchance some reader has info to send you. Best regards, Anthony>

Live Rock placement - 3/10/2003 Hi everyone, <Hello!  Scott V. Here> I have a question concerning LR, but more along the lines of setup/aquascaping.  I have read where people make some PVC stands/braces, pushed into the DSB. They then put their LR on this PVC, so as to raise it off the sand so no detritus accumulates there. Then add a small power head along the back of rocks to keep things stirred up.   <Yes, some people do this.  Some don't.> My question is this...how important is it to raise the LR off the sand, or can you position the LR directly on the DSB?   <You can do either.  The rock can also be placed directly on the glass with the sand around it.> IYO/IYE what is the best setup and best for long term success? <Raising the rock up onto a platform does make it easier to ensure that detritus is kept suspended.  However, it would not be a requirement and many do not like the look of it if they are unable to completely mask it.  There should still be no problem without it, if adequate circulation is maintained.  If detritus accumulation becomes a problem, either more circulation is needed, or it needs to be positioned differently to ensure there are little or no dead spots where the detritus can accumulate.  One danger of placing the rock directly on the sand bed, is there will surely be some settling of the rock.  You may end up finding your wonderful arrangement to change, or even worse, collapse at some point from the lower rocks shifting and settling> Also, do I need to keep my calcium levels up while curing/cycling my tank?   <It would probably be the least of my own worries during cycling, but it wont hurt and will give you a jump on getting everything where you need it, so go ahead.> Last question.  I am wanting to let my DSB, LS, LR cure, cycle, and mature for a few months before I add anything besides some sort of cleanup crew when the need arises.   <Sounds good, patience is always the safest route.> If I were to put, say, 5 blue green Chromis in the tank (75gal) after it cycles (but before anything else is added, to allow things to mature.)   Do you think this would affect the fauna, and DSB in maturing? <Very little, if at all, especially since it will already have been running for a few months> Thanks again guys,  Bryan <Not a problem. Enjoy your tank!  Scott V.>

Live Rock or fish first? - 3/10/2003 I have a 55 Gal. about 2 weeks old from start up. Equipment includes a Lifeguard  FB 300 with Penguin 550 power head, a Magnum 350 with canister with Phos-zorb, and Magnum 250 with just a Micron cartridge. just until tank cycles) <I doubt the micron filter is providing much of a benefit beyond reducing suspended particles from aragonite/sand addition, etc> Have 5 damsels right now to help cycle. <That's quite a bit all at once in a completely new tank, even for a 55 gallon and small fish.  Be sure to keep up with water changes until the cycle is complete.> I would like to add live rock, mushroom and polyp coral down the road.  I realize  I should get a protein skimmer and tossing  two back and forth....CPR Bak-pak and AquaC Remora. <Either would be fine.  Just be sure to get it as soon as possible, and most definitely before receiving any of the rock.> My question is when should I add live rock.? <Well, if you have a way of going back in time, add the rock before the fish, and use the rock to cycle the tank.  It not only cycles more quickly, but it is much less hazardous to the poor fish cursed with the title of "expendable."> Would it be easy to add now while tank is cycling if the rock is not cured? <No.  You would almost be assured of losing most, if not all, of your damsels.  The die off/curing process will also cause the tank to cycle again while it adjusts.  Cure the rock first!  With fish in the tank, add the rock slowly once it is fully cured.> Also would the equipment I have and plan to use be enough to have a successful tank (adding live rock and coral)? <Well, with adequate skimming, a deep sand bed or plenum, and plenty of rock you not only don't need much of what you have, but could just cause yourself more problems.  There is a whole lot of information on set-up here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/marine/setup/index.htm.  Be sure to read the sections on Deep Sand Beds and plenums, especially if you intend to attempt keeping corals in the future.  Also, if you are able to find a temporary home for the damsels, I would move them so their lives will not be as much at risk while you make the changes or additions J> Can you give me a tip on some lighting with out breaking the bank for this type set up also? <Power compacts will give you the best illumination at a reasonable cost.  The link above also has links to lighting FAQs.  While reading them, just keep in mind what your future livestock desires are.> Thank you very much!   <No problem.  Have fun, and look out for those damsels!  Scott V.> Bruce

Arranging LR Question that has been bugging me for quite some time. I currently run a 60g breeder tank 36X18X24 and have always had the LR set pretty much dead center, so the water moves around it. With my plans to scrap the crushed coral substrate entirely and move onto a DSB (5 1/2" - 6") Id like to take the LR and move it to the  two 'non viewed' sides and put a largish <RIO2100> PH/Pump in the lowest corner with LR around it, with the output going up and around the edge split for 3 or 4 different outlets to provide the chaotic flow recommended here. at the moment, im running just a single spray bar along one short edge of the tank and that is causing all sorts of dead spots. Will I run into problems with the LR basically stacked up against the walls of the tank? <Not necessarily. Much, as you appear to have a good grasp of, has to do with the arrangement of the rock and pump> in the short term it would hide two sides so I don't have to scrape em everyday, and in the long term, Im hoping to have a largish area for the fish to swim around in. Ideas? Comments? Concerns? scrap the whole idea? Thank you in advance, <I'd add another pump for the other side, grouping of rock as well. Otherwise this change should show a great improvement in your system, lessened maintenance. Bob Fenner> David Burger

RE: Set-up I gathered from the FAQ article that "circulation space" arrangement was optimal - now I am gathering from your response that you would place the LR directly on top of the LS and let the clean-up critters do the work - no PVC, no eggcrate...correct?  <correct but be careful of fishes or invertebrates that mine under the rockwork: build it solidly with the smallest footprint possible> I'll be setting up in the next day or so and I'll let you know how it goes...(fingers crossed).

Live Rock Quick question... <<Ok, let's see if I have a quick answer...>> I am getting ready to "elevate" my live rock onto some PVC pieces because I was unaware that leaning the rock again the glass is bad. <<Oh, I wouldn't say it was bad at all, just undesirable - as in, there are better options. It certainly isn't the end of the world.>> So are there any steps I should take before doing this since I know it will disturb my engineer goby's homes and my carpet anemone, as well as the other fish? <<Hmm... I'm not sure you need to carry out this exercise. Have seen this suggestion on the Web, elsewhere to raise live rock above the substrate on PVC risers to facilitate cleaning and circulation under the live rock. In my opinion, this is a waste of time/energy and would challenge the person who came up with this method to show me somewhere on a live reef where this is happening. You will be best served to leave your rock where it is, perhaps move it away from the glass... are we talking about the side or the bottom of the tank? If the rock is resting on the bottom of the tank, no worries at all. If the rock is leaning against one of the four sides, this will only impact water circulation within the tank... no harm will come to the rock, the tank, or the occupants.>> Thanks again, Kim <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

RE: Live Rock Okay, noted... The rocks are leaning up against the back wall mostly. <<no worries.>> The reason I was thinking of doing this is because of my two gobies creating their homes which makes the rocks unstable sometimes and to collapse, of which I am afraid will land my carpet (it has happened once). <<Ok, this is a legitimate concern. You might consider binding some of the rocks together with either wire-ties or perhaps underwater epoxy so that you can form more sturdy, engineer-goby-proof rock work.>> I am in the process of changing my tank to eventually house corals, so I would like my base to be more stable then as is. Plus, I have found that the detritus is always accumulating under and around the base of the rocks. <<Is ok, perhaps adding a Nassarius snail or two would help take care of this...>> Would it be wrong of me to assume that this could be contributing to my cyano in the tank (there isn't a lot, and has always been only on a few rocks and the glass)? <<could be, but typically this is caused by a lack of circulation in these areas - easily fixed with an additional powerhead.>> Plus my conch enjoys being under the sand, so this will give him more navigational room. <<Hmm... those conches... always bumping into things. Is your choice here... I'm not really a fan [as you could tell from the earlier email] of the PVC risers, if for no other reason than it is not natural. Given your list of circumstances, this may work well for you.>> Thanks bunches... Kim <<You are quite welcome. Cheers, J -- >>

Switching To Live Rock Hi Bob, <Anthony Calfo in your service> I have a 46 gallon bow tank with 38 pounds of live rock. I started initially with 30 pounds LR, a SeaStorm 100 FB, a Fluval 304 and a Remora (not Pro) PS. I have about 1.5 inches of the finest aragonite from CaribSea. <do consider reducing or increasing this amount...more than 3" or less than 1/2 inch is the rule. The "in between" is a long term recipe for nuisance/disaster as it is not deep enough for denitrification, but too deep for thorough nitrification. If you'd like better nitrate control...have more than 3" of sugar-fine aragonite sand> I have begun weaning myself off of my filters with the hope of getting to just LR, the skimmer and a couple Maxijets for circulation.  <do consider a second/better skimmer as well... a tank this size on average will produce 2-4 oz of dark skimmate daily> I'm doing this partly because it is easier to maintain and the tank wont look so cluttered with all the hoses etc. The biggest reason is that since starting to use live rock, nitrate is non-existent in my tank and I want to further eliminate any nitrate factories.  <agreed> I cut loose the fluidized bed and after a minor ammonia spike I'm back in balance and added the additional 8 pounds of LR today.  <as it should be> I guess all this leads to my question which really is...out of the blue...how cloudy will my water get if I take out the Fluval 304? I'm SO happy with how crystal clear the tank is and I'm loath to give that up.  <you'll need chemical filtration on any set-up...just think about reducing the Fluvals biological capacity, but not its chemical> It just adds that "WOW" factor when people see the tank, you know?  <of course, an ozonizer on the skimmer would make the water even nicer without the Fluval...crystal clear icy blue water> BUT, if it wont make a huge difference I'd like to simplify by removing it. Also, how much live rock really IS enough...I have been told, read, seen anywhere from 1/2 pound per gallon to 2 pounds per gallon. (Usually the 2 pounders are the guys selling it for $8/pound.)  <nope I agree with the two pounds per gallon for a full rockscape and primary filtration> I definitely understand that it is largely based upon the bio load so maybe it's not really a question easily answered....hmm? Well, of course, I want to put a Blue Whale in there so how's that for a starting point :-).  <about half as much as most of the folks writing in want...hehe> In general what do you think of my (planned) set up for fish only and some easy inverts? <a reasonable plan indeed> Should I keep the canister filter on?  <as stated above> Should I get more live rock?  <always a good investment in the tank> Should I invest in the stock market?  <yes... just not the mutual funds that I have been in> Heheh, thanks Bob for all your help, your books have truly helped me put together the BEST tank I've ever had! Wes <you sound like a wise an intuitive aquarist too. Kudos to you for learning and growing...be sure to pass it along. Anthony Calfo>

Gluing rocks together <Anthony Calfo in your service> Hi, I was just curious if you have any experience using aquarium grade silicone to join live rock.  <yes... a very poor long term solution> I have tried the green clay type epoxy in the past, but I was not very impressed.  <too expensive even if it did work> Maybe I didn't have the rock dry enough, etc. Would the silicone work as well, at least, or should I give the epoxy another try.  <neither...most of the big displays use masonry bits and plastic cable ties to stitch rock together... it is fast, very sturdy and very inexpensive. I wrote and illustrated this simple technique for building rockscaped arched and caves in my recent Book of Coral Propagation> Thanks immensely, for all your help and knowledge. Nathan <with kind regards, Anthony Calfo>

Follow Up and LR Bob thanks for the fast response and great help, clears some things up. Quick question on the LR, I have a CPR wet/dry and want to take/ or am going to leave out the bio balls. Replace in this area (big enough for 3 gallons of bio media) possible LR. Back to previous answer of bio media being "wetted" instead of submerged. Is it all right if the LR in this area is "wetted" w/ water running over it or should it be fully submerged? <Best fully submerged for growth of sponges and other life.> I/m adding a 20 gal refugium w/ DSB and LR and adding LR to the main display. Maybe I don't need any in the sump? <Would not hurt to have the extra amount.> Not big enough for a skimmer. I have a Aqua C Remora hang on in the 75 gal tank. Do use sump for mechanical and chemical filtration and the bio balls, also for the heaters and return flow to main display. Thanks for all your help Bryan. <You are welcome. -Steven Pro>

Building a Cool Rockscape <Hi, John... Anthony Calfo here answering Bob's mail while he is out getting fitted for a full length, latex Batman costume (personal reasons)> I have a question concerning aquascaping. I am in the process of setting up a marine aquarium. I used pvc pipe for a framework for my rock work. <very cool...I love it already> Next I used Epoxy Putty (which is made for aquarium use) to glue the rock work to the frames.  <Holy bejeezuess! I wish I had talked to you before you spent your child's college fund on underwater epoxy> I am not happy with the results, the rocks are not as secure as I would like. My question is would there be any problem using aquarium silicon to glue the rocks together for more support? <wouldn't hurt or work any better in the long run. Public aquaria and aquarists creating displays as you desire have a remarkably simple, durable and inexpensive solution to this problem. Its so cheap it will make you nauseous... you might even toss a kidney. A five dollar fistful of plastic cable ties and a three dollar masonry drill bit will take care of rock for a two hundred gallon display if you own an electric drill. Pick select rocks to cover the structure like a veneer and drill holes through the rock to fit the cable ties through for tying off to the frame. You may want to even tie some of the rocks to each other. I mention this style of aquascaping (building caves and arches) in displays in my Book of Coral Propagation. But don't buy the book for that...hehe. There's not much more so say about it. Give it a try with a few pieces and write back if you have anymore questions. Best of luck to you, Anthony> Thank You

Rearranging LR To: Robert Fenner I love your web site! It has given me more dependable advice then any other book or person. I hope you keep it going for a long time. Too many web-sites fade over time. I can see what a devoted following you have though. :) <Thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Mean much to me.> I have a few questions that are driving me crazy. I have 75lbs of LR in my 75g. tank. I am not happy with the look. I built the wall (recommended by my LFS, sorry I took that advice) at the back of my tank. Now I have a slow nitrate accumulation that I am attributing to my not being able to clean back there. <Can always be pulled out, re-arranged...> Is there a place on your web site that I am missing that would explain how to break down existing rock work and rebuild. <Mmm, not yet... Good idea for an article, section...> I have two false clowns, three Chromis, Chev. tang, and all kinds of hermits & snails. 2 cleaner shrimp, all kinds of soft corals 6 total. Should I remove the livestock and rebuild (afraid of the "dust" that would be kicked up) or leave them in there? <I'd try leaving them in place... doing half the tank (left or right) while running your filters full out... maybe even renting a Diatom (tm) filter at the time... But with another container to move the livestock "just in case"...> I am looking on the WWW for my new look so I am in the planning stage right now. <Ah, good... Maybe sites with underwater "wild" pix as well.> I will also be adding some LS to help stabilize my pH. I know from your book the look I am aiming for. I want a lagoon area for my more tame current corals. I guess what I am asking would be the best step by step plan to get the best rock work done from an existing crappy setup. :) My water quality is perfect except for the 20ppm of Nitrate. Thank you in advance!!! Grace <If you think you need more live or base rock (dead) rock material, now is the time to get, cure it... Start with larger pieces on the bottom, keeping in mind (a drawing would help) what you hope to accomplice as a finished work. Work your major elements in... caves, overhangs, slopes... at least three major points of interest... differences in a forward approach, elevation to one side or the other... Leave open space amongst your arrangement, including the back area... maybe consider adding a submerged powerhead, small pump to move water around there. Bob Fenner>

LR advice Hello Bob- <Hello> Just like to say that I love the WWM site, and since I'm new to marine, it's been invaluable so far. I'm learning more all the time. Hopefully, I can get your advice on a few things. <A pleasure> First off, I have a 29 gal tank, with about I inch of live sand, AquaClear200 filter, counter current venturi type skimmer, 100gph powerhead, a powerglo and a marine glo(40 watts total, plan on doubling that soon w/ pc's) and about 10lbs of live rock from my LFS. I would like to get up to around 30-40 lbs LR, but I'm wondering how I should go about adding it?  <Faster is possible if it's "clean"... cured enough.> the tank has been running about a week with the existing LR, and my ammonia and nitrite are now undetectable, nitrate at about 2.5 and getting lower. If I add all the new rock at once, will I crash everything? or should I keep going at a steady rate at a piece a week? Should I run the skimmer 24-7 while I introduce the rock or should turn it off after introducing the rock? <Run the skimmer continuously> One more question regarding the Aquaclear- it has a foam media in it- would you recommend I remove this? will it compete with the live rock?  <I would leave the foam in... rinse it gingerly during regular maintenance... likely every few weeks... no real problem with it and the live rock> I will leave the carbon in there but not sure about the media. Thanks so much for your time. Jon <Thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

How Should I Aquascape? I have a 55g reef that I plan to have dominated by soft corals with a few hard corals, a sponge, a clam, and a gorgonian. How should I arrange my rocks? Please don't just say "until it looks pretty to you" because that wont help. I think I have all the live rock I need and don't currently have any major corals, only the ones that came on my rock. Please, give me a few suggestion about how to arrange my rock! <Loosely, with obvious gaps to allow water movement between, with a gap area to the back, and a slope upward from the front. Larger, more square pieces on the bottom, running latitudinally (for stability), with at least two "interest" points, voids that look cave/overhang like. Take a look at real underwater scenes, dream in prime numbers, drain half the water down, roll up your sleeves and move. Bob Fenner>

live rock for 180 In your book TCMA and Michael Paletta's you both advise not to build a back wall full of rock. I agree and want to build an underwater atoll like the one in the diagram in Michael Paletta's book. The tank is 72x24x24. How much live rock will I need to build this? <Hmm, a good enough guess is two hundred and fifty pounds... variable of course with rock density, "holi-ness"... Please do read over all the FAQs and articles on live rock posted on our site: www.WetWebMedia.com Bob Fenner>

A PVC Maze Mr. Fenner, I have been looking forward to writing to you for some time now. I have your book The Conscientious Marine Aquarist and have enjoyed reading and rereading it. I was planning to write you a letter of appreciation through regular post, but was lucky enough to have a friend who told me of your web site. <Glad that we have found each other> The Q&A section is something I enjoy reading each morning. I always go through all of your information before and after I make choices concerning my aquarium. It has been a tremendous source of assistance in all of my endeavors with my system. Thank you so very much. <A pleasure to serve, share> My system is as follows: 80gal. 380watt power compact lighting on 11 hours a day. 85 pounds of live rock (cured in the system for cycling.) 25 pounds live sand bed. Wet/dry minus the bio-balls. 78 degrees. HO skimmer. Wavemaker (can't recall off hand the name of the device, sorry.) No abnormal readings as far as water quality. Ph. a stable 7.8 and S.G. of 0.022. After four months of cycling I am now able to move on to my next step. My only question is what you think of my plans for aquascaping. I have a secure LR base and what I hope to do is set PVC pipes, the curved and elbow variety, in three different places. Secure the LR around the pipes. I will set them in such a way that and crabs or walking creatures will not be caught i.e.: a downward slope. I am sure it is not necessary to do so with the amount of natural caves I could create with the LR. I guess I am asking if you think I would be going through more trouble the it is worth? <Many people swear by the construction of such PVC arrangements... easier to keep areas free of detritus build-up... and when done well, much less chance of "cave ins".> Thank you kindly for everything you have done to help so many. I hope you are rewarded often for what you contribute. <I am my friend. The friendship, camaraderie and learning through this work is more than enough compensation. Thank you for writing. Bob Fenner>

LR/LS and other questions Hi again, Some more questions for you: 1) Is 20 lbs. of LR enough for a 40 gallon aquarium? <For? For functions sake you could have more... for looks sake, ditto... though beauty is in the eye, mind, pocketbook...> 2) I was planning on using a mixture of live and non-live sand as a substrate but I was wondering if I should just use 30 lbs. of non-live sand and buy some more live rock? Is there any advantages to using the live sand as opposed to "seeding" it with live rock? <Virtually, actually, none> 3) Is there any reason why I can't remove all of the fish from my brackish tank, do a 20% water change, increase the salinity to about 34 ppt, and add the cured live rock and the substrate to this? Or do I need to drain and clean out the tank, then add water and let the system settle out for weeks (start all over)? <Umm, what are you going to do with the brackish livestock? Should be fine if they're being moved elsewhere> 4) What is a good level for dissolved oxygen in a reef tank (my brackish aquarium is about 4 mg/L right now)? <For almost all set-ups, about 7 ppm... harder to get this much in warmer tanks... but 4 mg/l, ppm is a bit low. Bob Fenner> Thanks, Kevin

changing tanks (mixing old and new live rock) Dear Sir, Thank you in advance for any and all help you have provided, both now and in the past. <Hmm, how about the future...?> I have a 29 gal. reef that I want to move to a 55 gal tank. The new tank has newly cured 45 lbs live rock, the old tank has 40 lbs from which I can move as much as you suggest or is eye pleasing!  <Yes> The old tank is 15 months old and good rock. I will be using a Remora skimmer that has went thru break-in on the cycled new tank. This is my question... Can I just move my stuff all at once? I have: 1 Yellow eyed Kole tang 1 pair Banggai Cardinal 1 lawnmower blenny 1 Mandarin Goby 1 cleaner shrimp 1 Foxface 1 sand sifting star 2 cucumbers snails corals include: devils hand bubble coral torch assorted small frags of Acropora 1.5" or less each some polyps I hate to ask what seems to be a simple question but, if I have learned anything from this hobby in the last 15 months, the only dumb questions are the ones you don't ask!! <Agreed... I would place the new rock, you say has cured in place in the 55... move the livestock and part of the existing rock... wait a couple of weeks, and move whatever amount of remaining live rock to 55 from the 29... Please see the "Live Rock"..."Placement" FAQs posted on our website: www.WetWebMedia.com for more here> thank you very much for your time and trouble, Kenny <A pleasure. Bob Fenner>

Opinion on Live Rock Supports Bob, Now that I am almost back to square one. I thought it would be a good time to change some things in my system. What is your opinion on the "rack systems" that hold live rock? Good idea or waste of money? I forgot to include this in my last email. SeeYa! Bob Wrigley <Am not a fan of these rigs at all... what's the sense of having an "X gallon" size system and not using it? Better to either stack less rock, or place it more vertically... Bob Fenner>

Arrangement of Live Rock Bob, Hello my friend. Long time no talk. My 75 gallon reef tank is doing well. I am slowly adding inverts as well as fish. My fish in the reef tank, Black Sailfin Blenny, Scooter Blenny and Green Stripe Goby are all doing fine. I have just received 1 male and 2 female Lyretail Anthias. Right now they have been in my quarantine tank for 1 week with another 2 weeks to go. <Sounds so good so far> I know I have asked you this question before, but the thought keeps popping into my little pea brain. Currently, my live rock is mounded up to look like a small island in the middle of my tank. All sides are accessible. Would it be better to position the live rock against the back glass to create a sloping effect? Your answer before was whatever was aesthetically pleasing. I was wondering if there were advantages over one or the other? <Hmm, not really... to the tank whatever grants exposure to light and circulation... to the inhabitants... depends, but most just like visual and physical cover...> Hope you are doing well and staying a little busy.

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