Live rock! Still a dogma?

Discussion in 'Advanced Topics' started by Belgian Anthias, 29 Apr 2018.

  1. Belgian Anthias

    Belgian Anthias

    6 Nov 2012
    Likes Received:
    Leuven, Belgium
    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 who has written about the aquarium hobby for the last 15 years. The advice to use live rock as a biological filter has been accepted for so long that it has become dogma. I think it is always useful to question dogma. It is easy, and comfortable, to be dogmatic, but progress comes only with periodic and critical re-evaluation of dearly-held ideas and practices. With this thought in mind, I believe it is time to critically re-examine the uncriticized use of live rock in reef aquarium systems. ( Shimek 2004/05)

    The above was written by Roland L. Shimek. Ph.D. in 2004 in his article ; Live rock as a biological filter, Hit or Myth?

    14 years later and still it is not more as a believe. Authors take it over referencing to other authors . The capacity of "live" rock to reduce ammonia and nitrate in the aquarium system became a dogma? ( we know nitrate reduction may take place in stone as it happens in any biofilm installed in the system)
    The questions asked by Shimek are still not answered with scientific backed up research and proof:
    "How, exactly, do bacteria growing inside of rocks 'filter' aquarium water?" Or, even better, "How, exactly, does water get into and out of live rock?" ( Shimek 2004/05)

    The bio-filter was banned the same way. It is believed that it is responsible for increasing the nitrate level and this is taken over by virtually every author who has written about the aquarium hobby for the last 15 years. As the function of a biological filter is reducing ammonia and for to sustain the increasing bio-load of the system it is logic that nitrate is produced and reduced in the filter. ( as live rock when it does what it should do) But is it the biological filter which is responsible for an increasing nitrate level? Or is it the manager of the system?
    Isn't the biological filter just an extension or the completion of the whole biological system which is a life supporting aquarium system, a function assumed to be carried out by "live" rock?

    A dogma is something that exists only because it is believed it exists. It can not be found, not touched, not seen, it is because it is believed it is.

    It is believed that live rock is needed in a reef aquarium and that it is responsible for and able to support and maintain the carrying capacity of the aquarium system. In combination with a skimmer. This believe is what modern reefkeeping is based on.
    Since the banning of bio-filters live rock has become booming business and all the benefits are gladly used by lobbyists supporting this business. Articles are written, threats are created but most of them do not contain a reference of proper research to sustain what is written. To support this booming business one would suspect that a lot of research has been done to prove the point of the lobbyists. Well, I am not able to find much. Of coarse, they have no reason to proof there point as long the majority of starters are made believers.
    I am well aware that live rock is not able to replace a simple bio-filter but I need references of proper research. There are thousands of research papers and books published concerning biological filters. Till now I could not find one publication that can tell me or will give me an estimation of the ammonia reduction and or nitrate reduction capacity of so called "live rock" used in an aquarium.
    It is simply tested by putting some drops of ammonia chloride(5%) into a bucket of seawater. It is not that difficult. If I would publish my results here most of you would not believe it,

    In his article , Shimek ( 2004/05) promises to do some more research, together with Eric Borneman, but I can not find the publications of the results.
    As I am writing an article concerning "live" rock, all help to find approved references of research about the biological filter capacity of "live" rock is welcome.

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