Aquascaping with live rock, keeping it live

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SteveG_inDC

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I have a couple hundred pounds of rock that's been in bins with powerheads and occasional water changes for about 6 months, waiting to go into a new 240g tank. (Some of the rock came from an established tank with algae issues). Most of the fancy aquascaping I see on here is done with dry rock, where you can take your time with drilling and mortar and support rods, etc.

Is it possible to do a fancy aquascape while keeping the live rock wet? Do I need an assistant with a spray bottle following me around while I work? Is there a time limit? Thoughts and suggestions welcome. THanks.
 

cvrle1

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There are few schools of thought on this. Some say bacteria will die once they are out of water, so use spray bottle and wet paper towels to keep as much of it alive. Others say bacteria will not die, it will go dormant, so it doesnt matter if your rock is out of water for several hours (or even days some say) it will become alive once it is added back into the water.

Now, if you have more things live than just bacteria, like sponges, worms, and bunch of other life forms that come with true LR, then yeah, you need to keep rock wet whichever way you can. This of course limits you on what you can use to connect pieces together, as most mortar used doesnt work well with water and wet rocks.
 
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SteveG_inDC

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I'm giving this thread a bump because I'm hoping others have more info on how long the beneficial bacteria in live rock can stay alive while the rock is out of water. Is it minutes, hours, days?

What about the aquascape building process? Can I do it in stages and put back in a bin of water after each stage?
Stage 1 would be arranging and cutting/drilling.
Stage 2 would be gluing with superglue
Stage 3 would be mortar
 
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SteveG_inDC

SteveG_inDC

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This was going to be my "stacked rock" aquascape, until I saw the famous BRS NSA video.
1602430425440.png

Now of course we all want aquascapes that look something like this:
1602430510718.png


But working with rock I've cured for 8 months...
 

andrewkw

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These are just ideas in my head but what if you got a stock tank and put that on your table while aquascaping. You could attach pieces together 2 at a time then place them back in the water to cure, then pull them out again to attach the next one and so forth. This may be easier then having someone continuously misting, but a spray bar over top of where you are working could also work assuming you have some big tray or similar water proof area to work in.

Even better would be 2 bins. One big enough for your aquascape, and a second bin / barrel holding your live rock that you are working with. More cost effective then stock tanks would be kiddie / dog pools.
 
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SteveG_inDC

SteveG_inDC

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These are just ideas in my head but what if you got a stock tank and put that on your table while aquascaping. You could attach pieces together 2 at a time then place them back in the water to cure, then pull them out again to attach the next one and so forth. This may be easier then having someone continuously misting, but a spray bar over top of where you are working could also work assuming you have some big tray or similar water proof area to work in.

Even better would be 2 bins. One big enough for your aquascape, and a second bin / barrel holding your live rock that you are working with. More cost effective then stock tanks would be kiddie / dog pools.

Thanks for the suggestions. I actually have a large bin that could hold most of the completed aquascape and a smaller bin that could hold much of the rock, which I could supplement with a 30g tank for holding rock. The two questions are
1. What is the science behind how long bacterial colonies stay alive on exposed rock?
2. Do I need to let the glue or mortar dry at all before submerging? Can I get a tight enough bond to move into the bin of moving saltwater?
 

Fishy65

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Depending on the rock my school of thought is that the majority of your beneficial bacteria lives within the pores, cracks, and crevices. The outside of your rock may dry in minutes or hours, but the internal parts will continue to stay wet in my opinion long enough to build your aquascape in stages. I like the idea of a bin to dip it back into in between drilling and setting. In my head I picture almost a shallow tray with a drain on one end. You build on the tray, pour water over the scape as you go to keep it wet, it drains into a bin and you just keep reusing it. I will be doing the same with a 250 in the future. My rock is in bins circulating in the garage.
 

Weasel1960

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Not a resident expert but most mortars need time to cure, usually 24 hours. Some of the gel glues work on wet or under water. Have you checked into 2 part epoxy? Maybe someone here has done that and knows if fish safe or not
 

92Miata

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If you want to do an experiment - take a piece of dry rock - and weigh it.

Sit it in salt water for a couple days. Weigh it.

The sit it somewhere out of water (not in the sun) and see how long it takes to return to it's dry weight.

I'm guessing it's going to be significantly longer than you'll have it out of water doing aquascape
 

Fishy65

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If you want to do an experiment - take a piece of dry rock - and weigh it.

Sit it in salt water for a couple days. Weigh it.

The sit it somewhere out of water (not in the sun) and see how long it takes to return to it's dry weight.

I'm guessing it's going to be significantly longer than you'll have it out of water doing aquascape
Great point
 
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SteveG_inDC

SteveG_inDC

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If you want to do an experiment - take a piece of dry rock - and weigh it.

Sit it in salt water for a couple days. Weigh it.

The sit it somewhere out of water (not in the sun) and see how long it takes to return to it's dry weight.

I'm guessing it's going to be significantly longer than you'll have it out of water doing aquascape

This is clever. It will tell me how much moisture the rock retains while out of water, but once you start cutting and drilling it will be different. Also, the question is about bacteria populations, which may not track evenly with water weight of the rock. Still, I love a good DIY science experiment.
 

growoldplease

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Ive worked with wood and dry rock drilling rods into the material and fixing in place with epoxy. With fish safe epoxy you could definitely put together a scape like in the brs video. Epoxy can cure under water. The tricky part is getting the angles right when drilling. Once the rock is temporarily in place, hold the rod across the joint and outline it with a pencil to help with getting the correct angle.
 

ScottB

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I think the pieces are coming together in this thread pretty well. Wet bins, spray bottle, etc.

I will add one more suggestion for your consideration. Super glue gel with an accelerant. Yes, I do recommend following up with mortar or epoxy to strengthen the joints, but glue with the spray accelerant sets up almost instantly and will hold the rocks together securely while your mortar sets up over 24 hours under water.
 

TriggerFinger

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I’ve taken my rock out to scrub off bubble algae, clips off hundreds of vermetid snails and do aiptasia removal. I did not have any issue with ammonia spikes when I put the rock back in. Some sat out for an hour.
Obviously aquascaping will take more than an hour but I like the idea of having a bin to put rocks in after attaching two or three pieces that you can come back to later.
Edit: sponges and feather dusters were fine, no harm done being out of water that long.
 

Mike Kearns

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The E-Marco 400 mortar gives directions on spraying your rock with a spray bottle while the mortar sets up. Says after just 2 hours rocks can be submerged and it will finish curing under water. Have not tried this.
 
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Ashish Patel

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I tried it once its not worth it, too many surface organism and its wet, slimy and just not pleasant. If this is a long term tank why not just buy a dry rock for main portion of your tank and add the Liverock in certain areas and the sump? The dry rock will take off in 6 months as long as its in the system.
 
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SteveG_inDC

SteveG_inDC

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I tried it once its not worth it, too many surface organism and its wet, slimy and just not pleasant. If this is a long term tank why not just buy a dry rock for main portion of your tank and add the Liverock in certain areas and the sump? The dry rock will take off in 6 months as long as its in the system.

Not sure I understand this. My live rock is fully cured. It's like dry rock but wet. No slime. Maybe some bacterial die-off will smell, but that's worth it to cut down on cycling time and need for bacteria in a bottle.
 

Ashish Patel

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Not sure I understand this. My live rock is fully cured. It's like dry rock but wet. No slime. Maybe some bacterial die-off will smell, but that's worth it to cut down on cycling time and need for bacteria in a bottle.

I tried aquascaping with wet Live rock before and won't do it again. I am sure it can be done but those cool aquascapes you see are all done with dry rock for a reason - Things glue better when dry but it may come down what kind of rock you have. If its marco rock wet then its may be harder than say fiji or pukani Liverock, which can be drilled and acrylic rods can be used to create overhangs with just a small amount of expoxy or marco cement to keep it together. let me know if you lost me :)
 
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