Dry Rock vs Live Rock

BubblesandSqueak

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When you guys start new tank with 100% live rock, are you dosing Dr Tim’s to the new tank while you wait till your order comes in or just filling fresh salt water the day before it arrives and in it goes? I ask because I see many places saying not to use “premium” live rock to cycle tge aquarium and start with live base rock. Seems like the premium has been in the ocean longer with more diversity vs base rock. I’d rather just use all premium if I could do it.
 

kevgib67

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When you guys start new tank with 100% live rock, are you dosing Dr Tim’s to the new tank while you wait till your order comes in or just filling fresh salt water the day before it arrives and in it goes? I ask because I see many places saying not to use “premium” live rock to cycle tge aquarium and start with live base rock. Seems like the premium has been in the ocean longer with more diversity vs base rock. I’d rather just use all premium if I could do it.
As long as the rock stayed wet you’ll have all the bacteria you need and an instant cycle. No bottled bacteria needed.
 

slingfox

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did that help with dinos?
I originally was dealing with mostly amphidinium which are regarded as the most difficult to treat. After 2 weeks of multiple countermeasures I was instead dealing with Ostreopsis. Those seem under control and I was most recently dealing with cyano taking over which is a good sign. Tank is no longer crazy looking but I will continue to be vigilant.

To battle Dino's I have done almost everything suggested including scrubbing the rocks (multiple times), siphoning out the top layer and sand and cleaning it (multiple times), adding in live rock, UV 24/7, dosing of nitrates to make sure it is not zero, silicate dosing, alternate day dosing of Dr. Tim's Waste away and Microbacter7, running tank at 83 degrees, lowering light intensity, DYI coral snow loaded with bacteria, filter all tank water through 10 micron sock (after every major cleaning and at night), and removing excess ceramic media (I had way too much). The regimen seems to be working! One last thing I will be doing is hanging strips of filter floss in higher flow areas of tank since apparently dinos like to settle there and can be easily exported. The only thing I did not do is dose hydrogen peroxide. I have a lot of it laying around but a leak in my doser caused me to overdose hydrogen peroxide which killed all my snails. That helped help start the series of events which led to dinos so I wanted to try to fix the situation without H2O2 dosing :(
 
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Boehmtown

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I've started a tank with dry rock I'm very happy with. I added stuff from Indo pacific sea farms. Leave it run for a bit. Before you get a fish, get some easy soft corals and dose phyto daily. Run a light so dim that the soft corals almost don't grow. Like 30 - 50 par max. Let it coast for a few months, add your fish slowly, let everything kinda settle, start turning up the lights and adding cleanup crew and inverts. Once the cleanup crew is established and the lights where you want it. Start selling off the soft corals and adding sps. Only add filtration/flow as you need it. Start the tank with very minimal filtration
 

slingfox

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I've started a tank with dry rock I'm very happy with. I added stuff from Indo pacific sea farms. Leave it run for a bit. Before you get a fish, get some easy soft corals and dose phyto daily. Run a light so dim that the soft corals almost don't grow. Like 30 - 50 par max. Let it coast for a few months, add your fish slowly, let everything kinda settle, start turning up the lights and adding cleanup crew and inverts. Once the cleanup crew is established and the lights where you want it. Start selling off the soft corals and adding sps. Only add filtration/flow as you need it. Start the tank with very minimal filtration
Since live rock is expensive getting very hardy soft corals is another way to get biodiversity into a new tank. I have a LFS that just imports livestock from SE Asia and Australia, chops it up and resells. Buying some cheap colonies from a shop like that is an option I never thought about. Unfortunately this shop also recommended I run my lights at max to encourage the uglies to come. In retrospect that was a bad idea!
 

Spare time

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This is a heated debated and I will simply lay out the facts

Live rock
- lots of microfauna (good and bad; and some of the diversity dies out overtime)
- ready for fish instantly
- Can introduce various hard to deal with pests that don't go away on their own (pest anemones, predatory worms and crabs, vermatids, etc.)
-can be highly concentrated with undesireable pests if from an LFS's tank.

Dry rock
- you control what goes in the tank
-will turn into live rock over time as you can corals, snails, fish, and such that all impact the tanks microbiome and microfauna
-may get a dominant algae at first if predators are not added before it takes hold
-not ready for fish instantly but can be within a matter of days with bottled bacteria
-cheaper
-easy to make a scapegoat for problems



The facts are all rock will become live rock. The difference is you controlling what enters the tank vs not being able to do so. All rock can grow nasty algaes, its predation that should limit it, not the magical biodiversity fairy. All rocks can get pests, but with live rock you have absolutely no control over it.


Want to compromise? Order live sand from the ocean and skip the live rock or order from aquabiomics or bommie reef.
 

Uncle99

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My understanding is that bottled bacteria accounts for only 2% of what’s in the sea. If that’s true, I’d like to get the other 98% as well
If I only got 2%, it was the best 2% I’ve ever had.

Used live rock years ago. What a disaster. What was worse was they did not show themselves for 3 years, must have been super small when entering.

This time we are at 6 years, and no unwanted pests, no mystery deaths, no corals contracting, no missing polyps.

Your going to get all you need by the other live stuff entering your system anyways.

Both systems work fine, neither right or wrong, just what your comfortable white.
 

Spare time

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My understanding is that bottled bacteria accounts for only 2% of what’s in the sea. If that’s true, I’d like to get the other 98% as well

Way less than 2%. But what is that other % doing for you? And why wouldn't it come in with fish, corals. crabs, snails, macroalgae, etc. I am not saying that its not beneficial to just have the bacteria found in bottles, but rather that biodiversity is poorly defined and and not understood in what it actually does. Tanks also tend to stabilize over time according to aquabiomics and don't maintain their initial microbiome from live rock and such.
 

hubble

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I started my tank last December with Marco flat rock. I've struggled for almost a year, the last straw was turf algae that was taking over everything. So I did a tank reset and removed most of the flat rock and ordered 100 lbs. of deco rock from Gulf live rock. Could not be happier...............
 

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mike89t

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In my first tank I used 100% live rock. I had this tank about 15 years ago. I "cured" the live rock (after receiving it direct from Tonga/Fiji) for about 2 weeks as there was some die off from the shipping process. Once in the tank my system was up and running with little issues. I did have a brown pest algae (Dictyota) that I had to deal with that spread all over my tank. I purchased a Naso tang and he ate it all within a week. I loved all the little things that came with the live rock.

In my current tank that I started about 2 years ago I used 100% dry rock with bottled bacteria. I was able to pre-Aquascape before adding water. Cycling the tank was pretty straight forward. I had two very bad ugly stages over the first year and a half. First was a massive Cyano outbreak. Then I had a massive GHA outbreak. Once I got those under control the tank has been much more stable.

So I would say the pluses and minus in my experience for each are:

Live Rock:
  • Almost instantly ready
  • Lots of biodiversity
  • Potential for unwanted pests
  • Much Less of an Ugly phase for me
  • Can be expensive
Setting up my old 150G with a bunch of Live Rock from Tonga and Fiji back in 2003:
150-jpg.3426397


My awesome Naso with Dictyota Pest Algae (background) that hitchhiked on Live Rock:
Naso.jpg


Dry Rock:
  • Able to aquascape dry and try different setups
  • base rock makes structures very stable
  • No unwanted pests
  • Took a lot longer for my system to stabilize
  • I had two pretty bad ugly phases during the first 1.5 years
  • Much cheaper than Live Rock

Here I'm testing out different arrangements with the dry rock in my current cube:
d4f83403-bbde-4634-891f-a02e77fd78f7-jpeg.2234408


Pest free tank to start but very sterile looking:
aquascape.jpg


The Great Cyano Outbreak of 2022:
cyano2-jpg.2590713


cyano1-jpg.2590714
 
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jda

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I will add that man made rock might never be able to do the same things as either dry or live rock can. The porous structure houses microfauna and bacteria that man made rock does not have. Man made rock likely only will every have stuff on the surface whereas natural rock, either live or dry, can have things making an impact inside of it. Whether this matters for anybody is a different question, but it probably does for most even if they don't know it.
 

Sophie"s mom

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I'm going to start a build when I win the Cade tank lol:grinning-face-with-sweat:..anywho...I am starting a SPS tank for acros the first of the year. I want to do it right and build a scape but I am 1000% sold that dryrock wont get me there and i dont want to wait a year. Any good solutions out there for scaping/ fast epoxy job or superglue without letting the base rock dry out? I can get baserock/liverock from my LFS at a decent price or order from Tampa - I'll deal with critters and feel the LFS route looks free of aiptasia but I want to scape right and not just have a pile of rocks.
I dont mean to hijack but this is a great subject and I recently read a great article a member did on here from 2019- Live rock is just so much more diverse. I am also thinking of building my scape and then running it in a storage bin with some quality base live rock to seed but I still dont think 45 days gets me the diversity.
I started a 90 gallon with half and half. I built an aqua scape with the base/dry rock, then added live rock once the tank was set up. It worked great for me. I also used all live sand, so my biodiversity was spot on.
 

mikebusc

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I started a 90 gallon with half and half. I built an aqua scape with the base/dry rock, then added live rock once the tank was set up. It worked great for me. I also used all live sand, so my biodiversity was spot on.
Where'd you get the live sand?
 

livinlifeinBKK

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I bought some online at Amazon , brand name Caribsea. They have a few different sizes to choose from. The rest I got from a friend.
Unless I'm mistaken, (and I may be), unless it's Ocean Direct live sand, it's not actually from the ocean.
Just found the old thread I was remembering...I wasn't mistaken.
 
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Budman93

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Ive only ever done dry but i'd probably do live if I could redo my current tank or the next time I set one up. Truth be told you are going to get a bunch of pests anyways through the years. The only ones I have somehow managed to avoid are bristleworms (Which arent even a pest) and vermitid snails (Thank god).
 
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