How to: LIVE ROCK ACID BATH

revhtree

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How to: LIVE ROCK ACID BATH

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Sometimes you get to the point where your rock is not working out for you. Maybe you had a stagnant tank and everything died? Maybe you have an insane algae problem? Maybe you just got the rock for free from some fishy character on Craigslist and just don’t trust it? Even aiptasia, hydroids, or dinoflagellates can make every other option impossible. Either way you are at your wits end and need a fresh start. Time to bust out the heavy artillery!

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WARNING:

Muriatic Acid is Hydrogen Chloride Gas in an aqueous solution. It is EXTREMELY CORROSIVE AND DANGEROUS. You must wear eye protection, plastic gloves, and a respirator. Do this outside in a vented area with a slight breeze blowing AGAINST YOUR BACK so the gas does not harm you. This is some SERIOUS stuff. Muriatic acid, when added to water, makes hydrochloric acid and the gas alone is enough to knock out an elephant. Always add the water first, then the muriatic acid because the chemical reaction can make it pop like a frozen chicken leg in a hot deep fryer. You can purchase this stuff at pool supply stores or home improvement warehouses. Disposing of this is a challenge in some places. Pool supply stores should be able to take care of any that you need to dispose of. Save yourself a ton of hassle and do not dispose of it yourself. The trash man WILL NOT take it.

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METHOD:

  • Clean the rock of excess algae and scrub it as clean as humanly possible. This will speed the process up a great deal and make the process easier to watch. The cleaner the rock to begin with the less murky the water will get.
  • Put the rock in a plastic container like a bucket or a large tote. The container has to be large enough to fit the rocks so they are completely submerged. Keep in mind you will need to be able to dispose of the acid so do not use something that you won’t be able to move easily.
  • Fill the container with water and measure the volume as you go so you know exactly how much water you have. This will be used later on to calculate how much muriatic acid to pour in.
  • Do the math: The equation is fairly simple.C1 x V1 = C2 x V2, where
    C1 = concentration (%) of the first solution
    V1 = volume (L or oz) of the first solution
    C2 = concentration (%) of the second solution
    V2 = volume (L or oz) of the second solution
  • Add the Acid. 3% is the target percentage. Make sure to check the acid’s % on the package to make the correct ratio. Too much is going to be overkill and not enough may not work. The acid should bubble when it is added to the water and when it is no longer boiling the acid is completely done dissolving the rock’s outer layer.
  • Drain the acid bath into containers that can be safely disposed of. Muriatic acid makes terrible lawn food unless you like the dead look. Take the acid to a pool supply store to take the responsibility off your hands. They are professionals.
  • Rinse the rock in new water as much as possible to get any excess acid and debris left behind. Keep your gloves on just in case.
  • Soak the rocks in new water. The longer the better. Change the water a few times to ensure that all the acid is diluted out.
  • Dry the rock. Set them out of aim of bird droppings and bugs that could potentially contaminate them if they die inside one.
  • Once the rock is dry you can start your reef tank from ground zero. Bigger, better, and cleaner than before!
The Acid bath takes certain precautions but is fairly simple. The hardest part is actually convincing yourself to go through with such a drastic measure in the first place! With help and the right tools you can easily bathe your rocks like a pro. No more dealing with problems found in old or dying rocks! For more help or a second opinion on this drastic method, check out this discussion on muriatic acid.

PLEASE BE VERY CAUTIOUS AS THIS CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS
 
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Matt Ziemer

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What about just boiling the rock? I recently moved from one tank to another and wanted to deal with residual aiptasia that had been hiding in the rock and popping up everywhere. I decided to boil the every one of my rocks. I got a cauldron of boiling water (in the back yard, thank goodness - it really stank) and boiled each rock for about 5 minutes. That was 6 months ago. They seem to be gone.
 

nstarcoral

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eek, no thanks. not worth the risk, imo, unless you have like 500+ lbs of live rock. IDK what that costs, or what the cost of bringing the acid to the pool place would be, but you can buy dry rock for around $2/lb. I'll spend a little more money knowing there's no leftover acid or I'm not dead.

Careful with boiling live rock, as palytoxins can go airborne and kill you and everyone else in your house. Do a google search on the subject and you will find some scary stories. Get a hotplate and do it outside to be safe :)
 

Ms. Mermaid

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I would do this ina heart beat so I could get it all cleaned if I should ever do another tank upgrade.
However this article failed to mention usinh baking soda after the acid stops bubbleing this helps neutralizing the acid but you have to use huge amounts of the baking soda.
 
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760mason

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What about just boiling the rock? I recently moved from one tank to another and wanted to deal with residual aiptasia that had been hiding in the rock and popping up everywhere. I decided to boil the every one of my rocks. I got a cauldron of boiling water (in the back yard, thank goodness - it really stank) and boiled each rock for about 5 minutes. That was 6 months ago. They seem to be gone.
I would not recommend boiling your rock under any circumstance. Google Palytoxin Poisoning. It might save your life. I know you had it in your backyard but others may do this in their kitchen...... Bad advice never boil live rock...never
 
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tyler1503

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Why pay a fortune for live rock, then kill all the good stuff living inside it?
Surely dry rock would be easier?
 

Eienna

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Why pay a fortune for live rock, then kill all the good stuff living inside it?
Surely dry rock would be easier?
I had live rock that became horribly infested with aiptasia despite my best efforts. I ended up acid-bathing it.

HOWEVER

There is a safer, though much less powerful, alternative to muriatic acid. I used vinegar, then bleach, then soaked in dechlorinator overnight. I haven't seen hide nor tentacle of the aiptasia since.
 

Tempest

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I had live rock that became horribly infested with aiptasia despite my best efforts. I ended up acid-bathing it.

HOWEVER

There is a safer, though much less powerful, alternative to muriatic acid. I used vinegar, then bleach, then soaked in dechlorinator overnight. I haven't seen hide nor tentacle of the aiptasia since.
But then you've killed every living organism, including all the beneficial bacteria, on and in the rock. What you're left with is dead rock filled with dead organisms inside it that will then foul your water to some degree instead of helping biologically filter it. I guess if you're gonna throw the rock out because it is so badly covered with aiptasia then go for it. But boiling rock or covering it in harsh chemicals because a few pop up here or there is a really really bad idea. You are turning your 8 dollar an lb purple liverock into 1.50 a lb dry limestone. All it takes is one polyp to come in on the base of a new coral or from a return line, and it was all for nothing. Kalk paste and a syringe can be used to destory any pest anemones that pop up. A small group of peppermint shrimp with help consume young aiptasia that you can't see.
 

kutcha

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But then you've killed every living organism, including all the beneficial bacteria, on and in the rock. What you're left with is dead rock filled with dead organisms inside it that will then foul your water to some degree instead of helping biologically filter it. I guess if you're gonna throw the rock out because it is so badly covered with aiptasia then go for it. But boiling rock or covering it in harsh chemicals because a few pop up here or there is a really really bad idea. You are turning your 8 dollar an lb purple liverock into 1.50 a lb dry limestone. All it takes is one polyp to come in on the base of a new coral or from a return line, and it was all for nothing. Kalk paste and a syringe can be used to destory any pest anemones that pop up. A small group of peppermint shrimp with help consume young aiptasia that you can't see.
it isnt just used for live rock what if you had a tank set up and you had to break it down and now all the live organisms in that rock died well you dont wantto start up a new tank with all that dead stuff in it you acid bath and the dead stuff disintegrates into the water NOW it is truly base rock that is safe to start over with after the baking soda and fresh water rinses
 

Tempest

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it isnt just used for live rock what if you had a tank set up and you had to break it down and now all the live organisms in that rock died well you dont wantto start up a new tank with all that dead stuff in it you acid bath and the dead stuff disintegrates into the water NOW it is truly base rock that is safe to start over with after the baking soda and fresh water rinses
Yes, that is a useful application. But the second poster in mentioned boiling is liverock for 5 whole mins to stop aiptasia from popping up. I am specifically warning against doing that or something similar with acids or chemicals.
 

teckademics

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Subscribed. On my list of things to do with algae infested rocks.
I actually just tried a new technique to quickly kill of Hair and Bubble algae. I'm going to post it up later but It's almost a partial cook and it only takes about 6 days, a bucket and a powerhead.

Day 1,
Take a few pieces of rock out and place outside to sun dry for a full day (make sure it doesn't rain)

Day 2
Pick dried algae off rock, (It's easier to peel it off all at once when it's dry) also try using a brush.
Rinse lose sand or algae, inspect rocks for dead things or critters
Place rock in 5g buckets of saltwater with power head (no heater)

Day 3, 4, 5, 6
Let rock sit in bucket in a dark room with a lid. Must be no light at all.
 

Eienna

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But then you've killed every living organism, including all the beneficial bacteria, on and in the rock. What you're left with is dead rock filled with dead organisms inside it that will then foul your water to some degree instead of helping biologically filter it. I guess if you're gonna throw the rock out because it is so badly covered with aiptasia then go for it. But boiling rock or covering it in harsh chemicals because a few pop up here or there is a really really bad idea. You are turning your 8 dollar an lb purple liverock into 1.50 a lb dry limestone. All it takes is one polyp to come in on the base of a new coral or from a return line, and it was all for nothing. Kalk paste and a syringe can be used to destory any pest anemones that pop up. A small group of peppermint shrimp with help consume young aiptasia that you can't see.
Check this page for photos of what I was dealing with XD
https://www.reef2reef.com/forums/member-tanks/131071-eiennas-50g-reef-18.html
 
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