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Thread: Live Rock

  1. #1

    Post Live Rock

    0 Not allowed!
    Just though I would write something up on Live Rock as we have had a few 'newbies' show up lately.


    Live Rock is an essential part of all aspects of marine aquariums - Whether it is a reef set up, FO (Fish only) or FOWLR (Fish Only With Live Rock).

    Generally, live rock is the base structure for reef and FOWLR aquariums, providing a food source and shelter for your organisms and to provide a porous environment for essential bacteria. In fish only aquariums, live rock is generally found in the sump.

    Live rock can come from four sources:

    Dead base rock - dead coral rock placed into an aquarium with added ammonia to build up the essential bacteria

    Oceanic Rock - 'Live' rock taken straight from a reef environment. This will contain the greatest quantity of higher life forms and the essential bacteria

    Aqua-culture - Dead base rock which has been added to an aquarium with Live rock. This rock will have different marine algaes and some life forms such as copepods, in addition to bacteria

    Mari-culture - Dead base rock which has been placed in the ocean. This rock contains the essential bacteria, and has an abundance of higher life forms. In essence, similar to oceanic live rock.

    All of these different sources of Live Rock have different environmental and economic implications, as well as a cost factor for the average hobbyists. I will not go into these implications simply due to the fact that I feel that it is not my place to encourage or discourage people from buying from certain sources.

    When people talk about live rock, they generally talk about the calcium skeletons of thousands of generations of SPS and LPS corals, covered in an abundance of life from copepods and amphipods, to worms, corals and even the occasional fish or octopus.

    However, it is imperative to understand that the term Live Rock does not refer to different algaes or critters, but simply to the essential bacterial life contained within. For example, dead base rock placed into an aquarium and left to cycle with added ammonia, will become 'Live' but will not have any higher life forms than bacteria or lower algaes such as diatoms, cyano or possibly hair algae. However, it is fundamentally 'live' rock.

    Rock taken out of the ocean is 'live' in the sense that it contains the essential bacterial life, but also has the added benefit of higher life forms such a copepods, worms and snails etc and different algaes such as coralline.

    What people need to understand, is the importance of live rock to marine aquariums. The various species of bacteria which shelters within the rock eliminates dangerous ammonia, nitrite and nitrate. The rock also provided shelter for detritivores so that they are not predated on by your fish. These detritivores consume fish waste and are very beneficial to your aquarium. In essence, your rock is the 'filter' of your aquarium. Any any money which your would spend on a canister filter, should instead be invested in live rock.

    As you can see, I have only discussed the basic principles of live rock. However, one must do their own research into what would work best for their aquarium. What so-called 'newbies' must understand, is that live rock is the basis on which your aquarium survives. It is also the filter which means that there is no need for expensive filtration equipment - EXCEPT FOR PROTEIN SKIMMERS

  2. Default

    0 Not allowed!
    Nice post unleashed! Another thing that complicates this issue is that LR vendors have not agreed on the nomenclature. So different vendors would probably call the same batch of rock by a different name.

    Great Job on the post though!
    40g SW

  3. #3


    0 Not allowed!
    Great post unleashed. Very helpful and informative for those endeavoring to begin a marine aquarium.
    Considering a Marine Aquarium? A Breakdown of the Components, Live Rock, Cycling a Marine Tank

    "The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The WILLINGNESS to learn is a choice." - Unknown

  4. #4


    0 Not allowed!
    Nice write up, should be very helpfut for the hobby newcomers.

  5. #5

    Default New Live Rock

    0 Not allowed!
    Not sure if this is the best place to post this question but since you mentioned live rock.........My 55g has been up and running for 8 months and seems stable for now. I have 3 fish - Maroon Clown, Green Chromis and Coral Beauty. I have never had any live rock but would like to add some if possible. What type and how much and how fast ?

  6. #6

    Join Date
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    0 Not allowed!
    type is up to you, most common is fiji but theres plenty of others, Jakarta is well liked also
    if its cured rock, you could add the full amount, which should be about 55lbs-150lbs all at once. if its uncured rock, you have to let it sit in a spare tank or buckets for a month

  7. Default

    0 Not allowed!
    I would follow Cocoas advice, and keep it in a bucket with SW and a powerhead for at least 2 weeks. The only exception would be if you TOTALLY trusted your LFS, and they were able to give you a precise timetable for the amount of time the rock had been curing.

    Also, (if possible) make sure and transport the rock in a bucket of SW to minimize exposure to air.
    40g SW

  8. #8

    Default Live Rock / Filter advice

    0 Not allowed!
    I went to a local shop and spoke to a very helpful and knowledgeable guy about live rock. He suggested that I could add live rock to my tank with no concern for negative effects. His suggestion for my 55 gal. was 25 pounds which differs from what I had heard by about half. He also suggested removing my Penguin 330 hang on filter saying it probably does more harm than good in saltwater. He even stated that without live rock he would remove the hang on and just add more powerhead for water movement. Does this advice make sense to you ?

  9. #9


    0 Not allowed!
    Half of his advice makes sense, the second half. First of all, if you add live rock to a tank that is already running, it needs to be fully cured when added and it should be kept submerged from the time of purchase to the time it is introduced to the tank to prevent die-off. The Die-off would produce ammonia in your tank and if you already have fish that would be a bad thing. The second problem I see is the recommended amount. 25 pounds isn't even half of what you should have. To recommend anything less than 1 pound per gallon is just plain bad advice. Your 55 should have at least 55 pounds and 75 would be more like it. The removal of the HOB filter is smart and the addition of powerheads is a good idea. The HOB is contributing to evaporation, and with the addition of live rock it would lead to a excessive of nitrates.
    Considering a Marine Aquarium? A Breakdown of the Components, Live Rock, Cycling a Marine Tank

    "The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The WILLINGNESS to learn is a choice." - Unknown

  10. #10


    0 Not allowed!
    Thanks so much. I've read numerous postings here from you and you are extremely helpful. At $8-10 per pound I would need to add rock slowly. I have 3 fish and the tank has been running for 8 months. I won't add anymore fish until I settle this filtration decision. Since it will take me awhile to add the required amount of rock, what do you think of his suggestion to still remove the filter and just have the powerheads ? I do have a protein skimmer also.

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