Is Florida aquacultured rock *really* all that bad?

Discussion in 'Reef Aquarium Discussion' started by magicstix, Apr 30, 2017.

  1. magicstix

    magicstix Active Member

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    I'm in the process of setting up a 40 breeder, and I was at the LFS today picking up some "live" rock (live only in the sense that it got wet for several months in their curing tank) to get things started. I figured I'd ask them what their opinion was on the Florida aquacultured stuff.

    They seemed to not like it, mostly because it's "too alive" in that you can't really control the hitchhikers. Surprisingly to me, this seems to be a pretty common sentiment lately; everyone wants to start with dry "live" rock and cycle it up just for bacteria.

    I'm just getting back into the hobby after 15 years or so, and this seems very strange to me. I remember the days where Fiji rock was really alive and came to the states on a plane wet and loaded with all kinds of life. Part of the fun of the rock was seeing what kind of hitchhikers you'd wind up with. The mantra in the late '90s and early 2000s was "biodiversity = stability," so the more alive the rock, the better.

    Nowadays this is apparently anathema and people are calling dead, dry rock "live" and seeking sterile tanks where the amount of hitchhikers (and thus diversity) is minimized.

    Sure, Florida rock is more likely to have undesirables, but the way I see it, that's just a sign of how fresh it is. Bad hitchhikers can be dealt with, just like in the olden days of wet Fiji rock (aiptasia, mantis shrimp, and bristleworms were just as much a worry then). My only concern is that most of the animals we keep in this hobby are from the Pacific or Mediterranean, which are very different biomes than the Caribbean, so there is definitely a question of compatibility between the rock and our animals. But given that you can't really get truly alive rock from the Pacific anymore, it seems Caribbean rock is the only way to maximize biodiversity in the tank.

    Given all of this, I'm considering getting some of the Florida aquacultured rock to finish filling out my aquascape. What are everyone else's thoughts on this subject? Do you guys prefer starting with sterile rock or going for as much variety of life as you can get?
     
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  2. rbtmcardle

    rbtmcardle Active Member R2R Supporter

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    I just got my Tampa bay saltwater "package" part 1 yesterday. I tried to use dry rock in January. I, like you have been out of the hobby a long time. For me, I will not ever set up a tank without the package. All of this "life" is exactly why I want a tank. Sure I've picked 4 or 5 gorilla crabs (1/2" or less) off of the rock but my word it's teeming with life.

    These pics are less than 24 hours after placing rock on bottom. I will scape it in a couple of days once I see what's what. Then when shipment 2 comes will move some down to sump/give away to get my final rockscape.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  3. magicstix

    magicstix Active Member

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    Excellent pics! I talked to TB-Saltwater and they said they're using the Walt Smith purple rock now as their seedstock. Unfortunately they also said they're out of stock and the winds are too high to go diving for more rock right now... :(

    How hard are the gorilla crabs to catch? What do you do to get them?
     
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  4. rbtmcardle

    rbtmcardle Active Member R2R Supporter

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    I picked up the rocks and inspected each one after it was in the tank overnight. Knocked off 3 of them into a bucket, found 3 more really small ones tonight and smashed them with a chopstick point.

    I also found a sally light foot crab tonight and 4 of those olive snails in the last pic. I'll get them out tomorrow.

    I cannot say enough about the Tampa Bay guys. Great experience, can't wait to get part 2...hopefully next Friday.
     
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  5. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    This should be a permanent stickie.

    Folks have forgotten or just stop enjoying the biosphere and have been sold on the furniture reef. It's fast and the the strut up and sale of coral comes quick so naturally the industry endorsed it.

    Another thing that was lost was being slow an patient. As I read it you got your rock enjoyed the stuff that came with it. Got the stuff out ya dint want and put stuff in ya did. Many don't know how to treat live rock from a friend lfs or Craigslist anymore and that can be worse than wild rock and not even fun to look at.
    But it takes time and is a process. I love the process.
    I would buy live wild or Aqua cultured in a heart beat.

    For a Newb, no. Get clean live rock. It's faster. Get most any live rock and clean it good. It's still faster and more enjoyable than the ditom cyano ugly phase (8mo) heck folks go through with a dry uncured rock tank. Bleh.
     
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  6. magicstix

    magicstix Active Member

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    Why would people wait 8 months when you could have a tank fully cycled in 8 weeks with even uncured wet live rock? Heck, even the Red Sea mature goes through all the various blooms in 3 weeks...
     
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  7. runzwithscissors

    runzwithscissors Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    I'm originally from Florida and I won't ever use FL lr. One of my local lfs's had some lr and I was interested in one particular rock because of the different growth. Didn't even think about asking where the rock was from, just assumed it was originally dry rock. Well, long story short, lotsa bad hitchhikers. It ended up being FL rock. My own stupidity for not inquiring. You can still buy the "good, real lr". I won't mention the source as they aren't a sponsor. Ironically the price is the same or less than than what you would pay for fl or dry. The exception is the freight from CA to your local airport is about a buck a pound. The other drawback is the availability due to Cities permits. It's worth the wait for my taste . Like Salty said, for a newcomer to sw, cleaned is and will be more successful than wild.
     
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  8. magicstix

    magicstix Active Member

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    Pretty sure Salty said the exact opposite about dry.
     
  9. LbulletM

    LbulletM Well-Known Member R2R Supporter MTRCMember Build Thread Contributor

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    I started with half live rock from Florida Live Rock and half dry rock from ReefCleaners just for price reasons. Based on the experience, will never start a tank with only dry rock. The diversity and finding something new every day for the first couple of months is part of the fun! Finally got a red flashlight the other day and WOW. I spent an hour (not even exaggerating) at 1 in the morning just staring at my tank and all of the bristle worms, pods, and brittle stars I have!
     
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  10. Devaji

    Devaji Well-Known Member

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    my 2 cents for whats its worth...
    this has been debated time and time again over the years..conclusion there is no "best" rock for each reefer.
    one must weigh the pros and cons and make a decision. what is right for me and my style of reefing may not be right for you.

    the pros of aquaculture LR:
    gets your tanks go alot faster.
    ads so much biodiversity
    lots of fun things to look at ( sponges algae ect. )
    the colors so much nicer than the snow white rocks
    possible corals coming in with it like rock nems, brains ect.
    get you interested in micro life of the reef


    the cons:
    the biggest 1 for me . not the easiest to aqua scape with, as you want to get it in the tank pretty fast to save the biodiversity.
    hitchhikers I do have quite a few gorillia crabs and a loud snapping shrimp in my system.
    macro alage (not a big deal for me, as long as its not the an invasive caulerpa but for some it might be.
    alot of the life with dye off in a new system getting the cycle started, but over time at least in my experience you pretty much end up with the standard purple rocks. so if your buying for the reds, pinks ect that might no be there 6 months done the rd. your tank my very...


    I put alot of thought into this myself. in the end I decided to go with 45# TBS LR. for the most part I was happy my order got stuck in Den, due to a snow storm, so I did lose alot of arrow crabs. but the gorilla crabs made it just fine..haha
    just be clear on the sizes of rock you want I ended up with 2 pretty large chunks that I found hard to scape with. months later I end up taking it out and taking a hammer to it. almost a year later I am still not 100% happy with my scape but that is me and not the rock.
    that is why I say dead rock is better if you want more of a zen style scape you can play with it for days to get it just right.

    I tend to be more of a natural reefer meaning I like ATS, biodiversity ect. so I went with aqua-cultured LR now i know that is not everyone cup of tea.
    if I was to do it again I prob would go with the Walt smith 2.1 DRY to get my scape where I wanted then seed with a 10% of the walth smith TBS rock. or oredr about 20# extra then sale off what you dont use.
    you could always get your rock 1st set it up in a tank get it cycling for a few months while your building out your tank.

    but like I said BOTH have the PROS and CONS if just a matter of what you want. I am happy with my TBS just cant seem to get a scape I love.
    hope that helps...
     
  11. saltyfilmfolks

    saltyfilmfolks Lights! Camera! Reef! R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Photo of the Month Award

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    It's too bad you got the swircheroo. That bites. I've seen folks here who were also sole live but not wild that was actually barely cured if that

    Because Reef2reef is cool you CAN discuss vendors and sellers that are not sponsors btw.

    And yea clean live not wild Rock.
    Kids don't trust the lfs clean it yourself. Doesn't even involve mutiatic acid.
     
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  12. magicstix

    magicstix Active Member

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    This is apparently what TBS is using now for their seed rock... Sounds like the best of both worlds to me.
     
  13. Devaji

    Devaji Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I got there 2.1 live. But ibwas thinking if I where to go it again I woukd do dry just to get a scape then add the live to kick start it.

    Here are some pics just cuz we Lm like photos:
    The last one is after I added it to the tank..[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  14. scriptmonkey

    scriptmonkey Well-Known Member R2R Supporter

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    I'm about ready to start with live rock an was looking at TBS. I am excited to see the critters good or bad, will be like Christmas. There will be some I will need to deal with I am sure but I am hoping the goods will outweigh the bad.
     
  15. rantipole

    rantipole Well-Known Member

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    Stupid question from a new reefer: What is TBS?

    Cheers,
    rant
     
  16. magicstix

    magicstix Active Member

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    TampaBay Saltwater. One of the first Florida live rock aquaculture places. They dig up coral bedrock in Florida and go dump it in the Gulf of Mexico for a few years to make it turn into live rock.

    Come to think of it, why aren't they doing something like this in Fiji and the Pacific? Why would CITES get involved if the reefs are artificial? It seems kind of silly since the Walt Smith dry stuff is supposedly made in Fiji... I know air freight is expensive, but I'm sure there's still a market for it.
     
  17. Patis55

    Patis55 Well-Known Member

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    Tampa Bay Saltwater
     
  18. AllSignsPointToFish

    AllSignsPointToFish Well-Known Member R2R Supporter Article Contributor

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    My Florida aquacultured live rock has served me well for the last year and a half!
     
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  19. rantipole

    rantipole Well-Known Member

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    Thank you both. I should've been able to figure that out.

    CITES would be relevant because CITES protects species, not where those species are coming from. Even captive bred reptiles, amphibians, etc. fall under CITES if the given species is covered.

    Cheers,
    rant
     
  20. saltyhog

    saltyhog Well-Known Member R2R Supporter R2R Excellence Award Reef Squad Partner Member 2018

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    Are these two snails not whelks?

    I started my tank with a combo of TBS rock and dry rock from Reef Cleaners and I would to the same if starting over again. I got lots of cool stuff....limpets, stomatella, sponges, barnacles, hidden cup coral, feather dusters, pistol shrimp, urchins and pods.

    I did get some bad guys too but that was part of the fun for me. Identifying and catching the bad ones. My list included gorilla crabs and two polyclad flat worms.
     
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