Live Rock- all you need to know

Discussion in 'Biological/Natural Filtration and Deep Sand Beds' started by seank, 16 Jun 2010.

  1. seank

    seank

    Joined:
    24 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,984
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    North of Durban and South of Mozambique
    Presented by Charles & Linda Raabe

    [​IMG]
    Besides acting as a major component of our filtration, Live rock, Base rock and sand also provides our tanks with some diversity of life forms. A few thoughts of my own on this subject. For the sake of using correct terminology, Live rock is NOT bare rock that has some filtering bacteria on it, I don't care who or how many people continue to use the term "live" for what should be correctly called base rock. To state that a base rock is "alive" just because it has had time in a tank to develop some bacteria on it is misleading, if that was the case, then I have "live" glass, and "live" plastic in my tank. As the filtering bacteria will grow on anything you put in the water.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This is what Live Rock, right out of the ocean looks like.

    (A). LIVE ROCK = Calcium carbonate or Lava based rock that has been colonized by a multitude of life forms including, but not limited to: corals, sponges, algae, inverts, worms and of course bacteria which forms a habitat unto its own. This type of habitat forms the foundation of all tropical reefs.

    [​IMG]
    Base rock being colonized by coralline algae
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 18 Jun 2010
  2. AdS Guest




    to hide all adverts.
  3. seank

    seank Thread Starter

    Joined:
    24 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,984
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    North of Durban and South of Mozambique
    (B). BASE ROCK = Calcium carbonate or Lava rock that is void of all life forms and is primarily used as a "base" to put live rock or corals on top of it. NOTE: If the base rock has been in an established tank, then it will most likely have the filtering bacterias already on it. I do not consider this type of rock to be correctly termed as live rock.


    IN REALITY : I seriously doubt that we, as a hobby, will ever be able to maintain all of the life that is found on and within live rock as found coming right out of the ocean. Having bought live rock in the U.S. I am quite familiar with the life forms that get lucky enough or are hardy enough to survive having been shipped from the other side of the planet as well as having gone through a curing process, which will happen to any rock whether you yourself buy it as such or put uncured rock into your system. It will always have some die off regardless.
    I would not be concerned at all with getting live rock in the same condition as it is found in nature, simply because once all that life is put into the relatively small and confined space of our aquariums, it will in short order be stripped down of most of its life forms. Only the most hardiest of species or those species that your tank's conditions suit, will end up as the dominant life forms on the rock.
    In nature, any herbivore or predator only takes a nip or bite here and there and moves on, something the "rock" can easily recover from quickly. But when those herbivores and predators only have ten or twenty rocks at their disposal and all day to snack on it within a confined space, those rocks are quickly wiped clean of all life forms except those that the herbivores and predators do not naturally eat. Which leads me to a point often debated. Can you take bare base rock and put it in with live rock to turn the base rock into live rock? Yes and No....No because the base rock will never become as the live rock was found in nature. Yes because those same life forms that are left behind untouched by the herbivores and predators will spread to the base rock, making the base rock look exactly as what the live rock has been reduced to.

    I say all of this simply because I have daily access to all the natural live rock one could ever dream of and have for the first few years of my system been removing a few rocks and replacing with fresh rock right off of the reefs.

    I can say without a doubt, that within two months or less, that wonderfully fresh and full of life live rock will end up looking just as "bare" as all the other rocks that have been in my system for a few years. The only way that I can maintain any diversity of life within my system is by the constant swapping out of live rock and sand to introduce more life that has been eaten or could not survive my tank's conditions.
    I have tried for over a year to find a balance between herbivores and predators to no avail, if the herbivores are restricted, not all algae species will grow in the same manner as they do in the wild, and I end up with one or two species out pacing all others and dominating the tank and threatening the corals with being smothered.

    Even with all predators removed, such as wrasses and crabs, the vast multitudes of small inverts populations either crash or explode to where only a few species dominate all else. Sad to say, I seriously doubt we could ever prevent this from happening no matter how much one would experiment with herbivore / predator species and population densitys. Its just not going to happen.
    Try as I may.
    As such, I believe it is imperative that any true reef aquarium system be comprised of multiple aquariums set up as refugiums for the various habitats that make a coral reef possible.

    To try and contain all within a single reef aquarium will only result in frustrated failure as noted above. I strongly recommend the use of filamentous algae "filters", sea grass habitat refugiums and macro algae refugiums be tied into the main coral display aquarium. Doing so will allow a much higher degree of biodiversity to be maintained, which will in turn, maintain your coral reef display.
     
    Last edited: 18 Jun 2010
  4. seank

    seank Thread Starter

    Joined:
    24 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,984
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    North of Durban and South of Mozambique
    The use of and care of Live Rock :

    There are two ways that you can introduce live rock into your tank.

    (A). Buy all your live rock and base rock at one time when you set up your tank and let it cure during your tank's initial cycle period. This is the most common method. But one that could endanger the life forms that you paid for, if the live rock is nothing more than coralline encrusted rock, then I would not be worried about it then.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Fungal and Bacterial mats decaying dead organics on live rock

    (B). Buy your base rock only when you set up your tank and allow it to become part of the filtration as it grows bacterias on it during the initial cycle period. This method is what I believe to be a better option. Once your tank has cycled and is ready for the addition of live rock. I would treat each piece of rock just as if it was a fish addition. A short curing (quarantine) period of letting it sit in a small tank or bucket while doing frequent if not daily water changes to control ammonia levels is an effective method of keeping all those life forms that you paid for alive. It is also a good chance to inspect the rock for any unwanted hitchhikers such as crabs or mantis shrimp, it is far easier to remove these creatures while the rock is not in your main tank.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 18 Jun 2010
  5. seank

    seank Thread Starter

    Joined:
    24 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,984
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    North of Durban and South of Mozambique
    Live Rock as a Biological Filter : Hit or Myth? - " One of the tried and true methods of providing biological filtration is by the use of "live rock." This method has been suggested by virtually every author "

    A note for those setting up Fish only with Live Rock (FOWLR) aquariums
    :

    Do not waste your money on doing so.

    Since such an aquarium is going to be used to keep a variety of fish, it is a fair bet that a good many of the fish you wish to have will find the live rock to be a great source of food and will strip the life off of the live rock and turn your six dollars a pound live rock into two dollars a pound base rock in a very short time. You will get the same beneficial filtering capacity from base rock as you would from live rock.

    For it to do so, all rock needs to be is a surface area for the biofilm (bacteria), which base rock is quite capable of providing. It makes no sense to me to fill a tank with hundreds of dollars of live rock only to watch a wrasse or an angelfish take bites out of it and come away spitting sand. If you want that much live rock in your tank, then you will have to stick with reef safe fish, and if you do that, you might as well make a full blown reef tank and enjoy all the life to be found in/on live rock.

    For fish only systems, using base rock for the majority of your rock will save you alot of grief and money.

    You can of course add one or two pieces of live rock just to get some coralline algae to spread and cover the base rock, but that can be done also by just getting some scrapings off of a tank that has coralline growing on their glass and just sprinkle it into your tank.

    Save your money and some live rock and enjoy your fish.


    Lava Based Rock -I would not recommend the use of lava based rock be used with the intention of it providing a suitable environment for the colonization of marine life.

    Being a silicate based rock, the crystalline make up of such rock is far too jagged or sharp for most life forms. That and it tends to be a great deal less porous than the calcium carbonate based rocks.
    There is also the concern that being lava, it could contain other elements that within an enclosed system could pose toxic concerns.
     
    Last edited: 18 Jun 2010
  6. seank

    seank Thread Starter

    Joined:
    24 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,984
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    North of Durban and South of Mozambique
    Last edited by a moderator: 18 Jun 2010
  7. seank

    seank Thread Starter

    Joined:
    24 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,984
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    North of Durban and South of Mozambique
    Last edited: 18 Jun 2010
  8. seank

    seank Thread Starter

    Joined:
    24 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,984
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    North of Durban and South of Mozambique
  9. Riddi

    Riddi

    Joined:
    1 Apr 2010
    Posts:
    203
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Cpt
    Thanks Sean
    As a newbie this clears up quite a bit for me
     
  10. clinton stanford

    clinton stanford

    Joined:
    11 Mar 2009
    Posts:
    2,210
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    East London
    Thanks Saen:thumbup: learned alot from this thread;)
    very interesting read.
     
  11. Jaak

    Jaak

    Joined:
    2 Jun 2008
    Posts:
    2,421
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Cape Town
    Wow Sean!! Awesome thread mate! Very informative.
     
  12. seank

    seank Thread Starter

    Joined:
    24 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,984
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    North of Durban and South of Mozambique
    Pleasure guys, glad it could be of help
     
  13. riyadhessa

    riyadhessa

    Joined:
    21 Nov 2007
    Posts:
    3,370
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Cape Town
    Hey Sean awesome read...been looking for this for sometime now...
     
  14. SIMS

    SIMS

    Joined:
    6 May 2007
    Posts:
    3,008
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Empangeni
    can't see pics?
     
  15. lanzo

    lanzo Sponsor

    Joined:
    10 Sep 2007
    Posts:
    9,396
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Centurion
    nice sean....but im with sims....no pics:(
     
  16. seank

    seank Thread Starter

    Joined:
    24 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,984
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    North of Durban and South of Mozambique
    Shot guys, can you see the pics now???
     
  17. chikaboo

    chikaboo

    Joined:
    2 Jan 2009
    Posts:
    4,980
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Newcastle - KZN
    :1rolleyes:mmmm even if I look like this or :wacky: or even if I try to look like this:goofy: sorry still cant see no pics
     
  18. seank

    seank Thread Starter

    Joined:
    24 May 2007
    Posts:
    11,984
    Likes Received:
    119
    Location:
    North of Durban and South of Mozambique
    But how come I can see the pics. Ok, will try something different now. Give me a couple of minutes
     
  19. chikaboo

    chikaboo

    Joined:
    2 Jan 2009
    Posts:
    4,980
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Newcastle - KZN
    I think coz while we all braving the cold our eyeballs must be too cold to see the pics and you the only one on the forum that said is going to be hiding in the house coz its too cold:razz:
     
  20. jacquesb

    jacquesb Retired Moderator

    Joined:
    29 May 2007
    Posts:
    17,868
    Likes Received:
    69
    Location:
    Cape Town
    OK - fixed pics for Sean.

    Sean - thanks for finding and posting these articles - perhaps please just highlight the fact that these are not your own words (well - not all of it, in any case ;))....
     
  21. chikaboo

    chikaboo

    Joined:
    2 Jan 2009
    Posts:
    4,980
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Newcastle - KZN
    Sorry guys .... maybe just me but still no pics:(
     
Recent Posts

Loading...
Similar Threads - Live Rock need Forum Date
[wtd] Liverock needed for this week saturday - 25 kg Wanted 24 Nov 2016
[wtd] wave maker/flow pump needed and live rock Wanted 29 Jun 2016
Need Live Rock -- CPT ► Sponsor Request Forum 29 May 2016
need liverock New Members 16 Dec 2013
[wtd] Some caulerpa, chaeto and live rock needed(Cape Town) Wanted 24 Jan 2013
Fiji live rock needed General Discussions and Advice 20 Sep 2012
Need Live Rock Wanted 14 Feb 2011