Beginner Reefer - 125 Gal tank Rock insight - scroll to "SUGGESTIONS MOVING FORWARD" if you dont want backstory


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Nov 14, 2023
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So as mentioned, I'm new to reefing and the saltwater aquarium community. I am learning as I go and made a painful mistake I'm looking to rectify as safely as possible.

Tank was bought used in August while still running as a functioning aquarium, previous owner had up and running since 2017 but did not do water change for last year. Took tank down and kept the 80lbs of live rock soaking, fish in bucket with bubbler (2 clowns and brittle sea star), saltwater stored in 55g drums. Got it home cleaned out tank with scraper and removed sand bed. Replaced sand bed with 80lbs of live sand and added everything back in, went through mini cycle, had high nitrate and phosphate, got it under control, got all tests within normal parameters. Was told by LFS safe to add fish in quite early (2 weeks of owning tank). Tank has been thriving with 2 emerald crabs, conch, sea star, 2 clowns, sand sifting goby, sailfin tang, and blue tang.

125g with 20g sump
filter socks
protein skimmer
chaeto algae
1x maxspect gyre xf350 cloud and controller
marinepure biofilter media balls

Due to tanks lack of care from previous owner in last year, there was a major build up of green hair algae and what I've been calling green turf algae (tough dense short algae that resembles putters green). I was able to eliminate green hair algae no problem but no matter what I did, the green turf algae wouldn't budge and was not easily removed physically and was taking crumbles of rock with it. I went a heavier approach recommended by LFS and another reefer to follow a hydrogen peroxide bath guide to get rid of the algae once and for all. I removed 75% of rock from my tank and proceeded with the peroxide bath. After the recommended 1hr bath and vigorous brush scrubbing, the algae appeared untouched unlike what I viewed in the guide. My unexperienced self decided the best course of action was to let it soak longer. Still no touch to my algae I was going to just give up on the removal and add back to tank but checked with FB community if that was safe and after being berated for a while was given the consensus that my once live rock was now dead.

Since my rock was now dead and I did not want it rotting in my tank causing only god knows what within the tank, I made the decision to bring the rock to ground zero by doing a bleach cure following BRStv guide. Rock is now cured and white and removed the algae as I desired, but of course that means all my bacteria died off with it. Allowed rock to dry for 4 days while I noticed it no longer smelled of bleach. Rock is currently in a dechlorinating bath using prime with a spare power head I had to ensure all bleach/chlorine is removed from the rock before moving forward with it.

Once all of my rock has become true dry rock again without any harmful elements to worry about, I'm wondering what my next best steps are to keep my livestock as safe as possible. I see 1 of 2 routes moving forward and would like some insight or experienced opinions regarding them:

1) Simply add dry rock to tank at about 20lbs at a time over the course of a couple weeks to not overload the tank. there's about 15-20lbs of live rock, 80lbs of live sand, and 1 full package of marine pure biofilter media balls all fully established in tank. One LFS said with stable parameters and established bacteria like that, I could add all rock in at once with very minimal cycling effects, but I'd rather be safe than sorry unless you guys say otherwise.

2) Cycle dry rock outside of tank in tote with powerhead and microbacter start xlm. Bottle claims "tank" would be cycled in 7 days, and add in full amount after 7 days. Would this be a safer route opposed to simply adding in dry rock?

I have no corals currently and just want to ensure the safest route for my fish, manageable algae blooms are not a concern for me and I do have chaeto growing in sump to help soak up extra nutrients. Sorry for the decertation of a forum post but I felt having the full story and as much detail as possible was the best way to explain the situation and get the most helpful advice.


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Personally, I would do a combination of both. You can add 1 or 2 small piece and then start to cycle the rest in buckets.

In this way you assure there’s no pare meter changes from the rock itself.

Add 1-2 pieces a week going forward.

Besides the microbacter(don’t overdue) you can add a couple of small pieces of LR from an established tank to help seed(obviously from one without the algae issues).

You can also add pods and phyto after you have about 1/3 of the rock in.


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