I am not understanding this. Will someone help please?? Live vs dry rock.

person

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I am not getting the difference between live and dry rock. Here’s what I understand. Live rock is regular rock that has been bleached and turned white while live rock is rock straight from the ocean that contains beneficial bacteria. Here are my questions.

Will dry rock turn live eventually and become colonized by beneficial bacteria?
Can you put coral on dry rock?
Is dry rock bleached live rock?
How long will it take for dry rock to become live?
 

crazyfishmom

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I am not getting the difference between live and dry rock. Here’s what I understand. Live rock is regular rock that has been bleached and turned white while live rock is rock straight from the ocean that contains beneficial bacteria. Here are my questions.

Will dry rock turn live eventually and become colonized by beneficial bacteria?
Can you put coral on dry rock?
Is dry rock bleached live rock?
How long will it take for dry rock to become live?
Will dry rock turn live eventually? Yes, slowly over time it will but it will not have the same biodiversity as live rock harvested from the ocean.

Can you put Coral on dry rock? Absolutely… once your tank has been stable for a bit since it takes a while for that rock to cycle and behave as it needs to.

Is dry rock bleached live rock? Some of it is. Some of it is just man made that has never seen water.

How long will it take for dry rock to become live? That’s a head scratcher. Many months and it’ll depend on a lot of things.
 

RedOtterCoral

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Most dry rock is man-made. Dry rock will become live over the months you have your tank, and will contain a population of beneficial bacteria once done with initial cycling. It will never have the same biological diversity of true live rock (pros and cons of this, i.e. hitch hickers) but it will do the same thing re biological filtration in time.
 

Sisterlimonpot

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While most people associate live rock with nitrifying bacteria that basically converts the harmful ammonia into less harmful nitrate.

There's a lot more that "live rock" can encompass. People also refer to live rock as teaming with micro fauna that is beneficial to our little ecosystem.

Most people push the need for real live rock (rock that has been in the ocean) because not only does it have nitrifying bacteria, but a whole host of other bacteria as well as a robust micro fauna population.

However, if you seed your tank properly with a sampling of bacteria and micro fauna, in a few months to years you won't be able to tell the difference between rock plucked from the ocean vs 'dead rock".

Of course I'm just scratching the surface, because there are many tangents to this subject and pros and cons to the different choices we have available. Rightfully so, it's no surprise that you're confused.
 

areefer01

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However, if you seed your tank properly with a sampling of bacteria and micro fauna, in a few months to years you won't be able to tell the difference between rock plucked from the ocean vs 'dead rock".

Maturity is everything. Like a fine bottle of wine. Buy two, drink one today and enjoy. Drink the same bottle but you saved it for two years it is on a whole different level if stored properly :D

Of course I'm just scratching the surface, because there are many tangents to this subject and pros and cons to the different choices we have available. Rightfully so, it's no surprise that you're confused.

100% correct. Lots of options to get there. Budget is everything. That and patience :D
 

Sisterlimonpot

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but it will not have the same biodiversity as live rock harvested from the ocean.

It will never have the same biological diversity of true live rock
While technically true, these are sort of misnomers. It doesn't matter how diverse rock from the ocean are, when you put them in your tank, it's only a matter of time before the dominant bacteria out competes and your left with the same diversity.

In the long run, it makes no difference. But in the short term, it definitely helps getting past some early hurdles.
 

Reefer Matt

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Some companies actually make live rock by putting dry rock in the ocean and harvesting it later. The same thing happens in reef tanks when the dry rock matures.
 

vetteguy53081

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I am not getting the difference between live and dry rock. Here’s what I understand. Live rock is regular rock that has been bleached and turned white while live rock is rock straight from the ocean that contains beneficial bacteria. Here are my questions.

Will dry rock turn live eventually and become colonized by beneficial bacteria?
Can you put coral on dry rock?
Is dry rock bleached live rock?
How long will it take for dry rock to become live?
Dry rock is a base rock, that is unseeded and often contains silicates which break down in time and will start to seed with various organisms within the tank. Live rock(and you will often hear the term seeded) often contains live organisms that are living inside and outside of the rock and often developed with calcium carbonate and regarded as the foundation for many tanks.
It offers diversity helping to convert waste to ammonia and then into less harmful substances both aerobic and anerobic.
 

MoshJosh

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1. Yes, dry rock will eventually become live if it's in the proper environment

2. Yes, you can put coral on dry rock.

3. I don't believe so.

4. It depends, but typically a couple of months.
I agree with this and add:

1. Yes it will become colonized with bacteria and other organisms that it is exposed too. So the biodiversity will be dependent on what you put in your tank. Chances are dry rock in your tank will not be exposed to the same bio-diversity as live rock from the ocean. . .

2. Yes you can glue coral to pretty much anything. . . I have acros growing onto the plastic frag rack.

3. Not that I am aware of, I believe most dry rock these days is manufactured/man made.

4. It will start harboring beneficial bacteria fairly quickly, when it is harboring "enough" bacteria is when your take is "cycled" (that is a big oversimplification but still). Also see the answer to question 1.
 

vetteguy53081

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Some companies actually make live rock by putting dry rock in the ocean and harvesting it later. The same thing happens in reef tanks when the dry rock matures.
More popular now with both dying oceans and laws preventing removal known as aquaculture
 

RedOtterCoral

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While technically true, these are sort of misnomers. It doesn't matter how diverse rock from the ocean are, when you put them in your tank, it's only a matter of time before the dominant bacteria out competes and your left with the same diversity.
I agree for the home reef, longterm, dry rock properly supplemented and seeded will perform just as well (and I personally think seeing the change from dry to purple and live with corraline is awesome and more fulfilling).

I do have to think there's bio diversity from the ocean we just can't replicate in the bottle
 

DanTheReefer

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May want to look into pulling some mature rock or other media out of another system to seed the bacteria and other important critters like pods.

I started reefing in 2006 when live rock was still popular. I had pretty much immediate success after the cycle.

After a few year break from salt water I got back into it around 2018 with dry rock, bare bottom, fishless cycle. Had about a year of new tank syndrome - all of the coral either “held on” with little growth or died. Pest of the month (cyano, dinos, algae, some clear bacteria slime that clogged the plumbing daily). This is my tank at 6 months:
IMG_2894.jpeg


I thought I had gotten bad at reefing but in hindsight combining the trendy bare bottoms of the time with dry rock was not sound. After about 18 months things became easy again. Just needed patience to get through the new tank syndrome.

IMG_7654.jpeg
 

twentyleagues

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Not all dry rock is man made. Marco and a couple others are mined out of the ground from ancient coral beds. This isnt live rock it is dry and dead, acid washed, power washed and broken into manageable sizes and sold all over the world. Most live rock that you can easily get now is this type of rock that is dropped into the ocean to sit for up to two years to become live rock. Man made rock (agracrete) is a rock that is made from a mix of concrete and calcium substrates ( crushed coral, aragonite sand, crushed oyster shells) It is usually then dyed to look like coralline algae. I believe caribsea rock is this type (at least some of it). All this rock properly "seeded" will eventually become live.

Starting a tank with dry rock is a longer process then with live rock especially with the way a lot of live rock sellers ship their rock in water now. Live rock pretty much allows you to instatank, fill with water, put rock in, put fish in. You have little worry of the ammonia cycle. Being in the ocean has its benefits and draw backs. Other "creatures" that you want and dont want can come in on the rock. Possibly costing you tank inhabitants or becoming cool tank inhabitants. Other then that all your worry can be put into disease prevention or if you'd rather disease mitigation. Fish parasites can come in with the live rock also. So if you go the prevention route you need to fallow that rock from the ocean. Its not vary common to happen but it is a possibility. Coral "predators/ aggravators" can also come in on live rock. Dry Rock has nothing on it nothing at all so nothing you didnt want/add goes in. Also has its draw backs, cycle time , maturation time, less stability from the start, nutrient issues.
 

JayM

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I wish hobbyists and/or industry would come up with a different name for “live rock”.

There’s no such thing as “live rock”. Rocks are not, and have never been alive (unless you count fossils as rocks).

There are however, rocks with living organisms on/in them.
 

Sisterlimonpot

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I wish hobbyists and/or industry would come up with a different name for “live rock”.

There’s no such thing as “live rock”. Rocks are not, and have never been alive (unless you count fossils as rocks).

There are however, rocks with living organisms on/in them.
It's just a name that has stuck. I doubt we'll ever see it change.

I remember having the same confusion when I heard the words for the 1st time.
 

Joekovar

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Depending on where it comes from, the underlying "rock" could be just about anything that won't pollute the environment.

The main difference is that one has stuff growing on it, and the other doesn't.

If you search for "live rock aquaculture rules and regulations", you'll get an idea of what companies that farm rock in the Gulf of Mexico for instance, have to do.

One key piece in those regulations is "substrate must be geologically distinguishable from rock in the surrounding area".

They don't want people harvesting rock from outside of their permit area and saying it came from their area, and the only way to really enforce that is to require that distinction. Meaning on the surface, their rock is pretty much the same as you'd get going to a reef and harvesting it yourself. That requirement for being geologically distinguishable however, means their rock is also going to have, or lack something native rock doesn't or does have.

Substrate samples also have to be approved by the authority as well, to make sure it's not stuff that's going to pollute the surrounding environment.

It's probably worth noting that aquacultured rock typically sits for years before it's harvested.
 

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