Live rock it not? New tank build

BRS

Where to put live rock

  • Dont use any liverock

    Votes: 3 20.0%
  • Place it all in the sump

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Place most in the sump with a small bit in the display

    Votes: 3 20.0%
  • Place it all in the display

    Votes: 9 60.0%

  • Total voters
    15

PghReef

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
544
Reaction score
360
Location
Pittsburgh
This will be my third build, 90 gallon with sump. I'll discuss my journey below but basically want to hear opinions on all dry to all live and everything in between rock. My plan is to set up with dry pukani and some Fiji or branch mixed in. Hopefuly 45-60 lbs. No baths just cured in the cycling tank. I also want to order 15 or 20 lbs premium live rock from KP aquatics to cure in a separate tank and then add to either the display, sump, or both. Really nervous about nasties I dont want in the display, wasnt sure if isolating to the sump would give me all the benefits of liverock without much risk or if id still have issues with the dry in the display since nothing will make its way up there. The sump is going to be dark, no refugium.

My first build was all dry pukani cycled and cured in the tank. I added 1 lbs of coralline covered liverock from a lfs and the tank was overall pretty successful. I bought colonies of corals and added right to the tank and had abundant critters but no pest that overwelmed the system. Had a tank crash after moving and not being preparing for power outages. No sump meant a HOB filter that filled with ammonia during an outage and dumped into the tank when power restarted.

Second setup was the same exact tank rebooted. Figured it did great the first time I'll learn from my mistakes and version 2.0 will be better than the first! Used all dry rock again, this time bleached and acid bathed. 0 live rock and only frags detached from frag plugs. Same equipment as before but went led instead or t5ho lighting. Tank has been a mess of failures for 18 months. Fish thrive but corals struggle and algae blooms one after another. This was always a middle step until I got ready for my larger tank but I hoped to grow out some colonies so I could transfer over.

This time I'm setting up a 90gallon reef ready with my first sump. I have plenty of untouched pukani and branch rock from before the bans, thank goodness as I love the rock so much more than the stuff they sell now. I am thinking agaisnt any bleach or acid baths as I have had algae after algae from bottomed out nutrients.
 

Mhart032

Stick Head
View Badges
Joined
Jun 16, 2018
Messages
984
Reaction score
3,577
Location
San Antonio TX
I myself have always used dry rock. Thats been my go to. never cured it or pre cycled it. i think the uglies are just a part of it. my most recent build i was ready for it, started my fuge during the cycle. didnt turn lights on till i saw some coraline growing, already had UV in place for dinos and Cyano outbreaks . did small water changes every week. I did get Dinos for 3 days dosed phosphates and nitrates to combat it with UV. Cyano was quick as well 4 or 5 days it was gone with the UV. added cleanup crew when i started to see diatoms.
 

Mhart032

Stick Head
View Badges
Joined
Jun 16, 2018
Messages
984
Reaction score
3,577
Location
San Antonio TX
I do like the looks of the "reef rock" i think i will use that next time. I used reef savers rock and chissled, cut and use a roto tool, and wet tile saw to get flat bottoms and arches i wanted.
 

ahiggins

2500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Apr 13, 2016
Messages
4,647
Reaction score
3,279
having set up multiple tanks with live, dry, and mixed-heres my 2 cents:

I always start with dry rock now and cure for about 3 months before I ever put it into a display. It takes much longer to establish and create stability (mine have always taken a good 8 months to a year to be 100% stable). What i mean by stable is: consistent parameters, no dosing for nutrients, no algae outbreaks, no dino/cyano outbreaks, growing coralline.

My biggest pet peeve of using 100% dry is that there is (more often than not) a huge dino bloom that needs to be addressed PRIOR to any corals going in. This means no coral for at least 6 months. I put fish in after ive cycled the rocks for 3 months. Ive always been able to beat it back by dosing nitrate and phosphate and using a UV filter but still-huge PITA. It takes intense care for that 6 or 8 months but youre left with a pristine building block for an amazing reef every single time. The time you spend up front will pale in comparison to the amount of time youll spend scrubbing algae off rocks, treating for one thing or another, or trying to figure out how to get rid of aiptasia.

I have NEVER found live rock that didnt come with a host of pests and algae. Whether its ulva, bryopsis, bubble algae, aiptasia-you name it, its in there somewhere. For me-I am on team dry rock for that reason alone. Yea, i miss the stomatella snails and all the fun things you can find with live but all of those are just boosters to an existing happy healthy reef.

It does take longer, my last build was almost a year before it was stable, but its so worth it to have a 100% guarantee that there are no pests to deal with.
 

Waters

"...in perfect isolation, here behind my wall."
View Badges
Joined
Nov 5, 2013
Messages
5,370
Reaction score
8,082
Location
Mentor, OH
I have always used live rock up until my current build which is CaribSea Life rock. I am really liking knowing that I am pest free from the start. It is not always easy to eradicate unwanted pests/algae that often comes with live rock. That being said, I do like examining live rock in a new tank waiting for life.
 

Tamberav

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 4, 2014
Messages
2,149
Reaction score
3,227
Location
Wauwatosa, WI
I have used both live and dry. I prefer live. My last batch was KPA rock and I cycled it in a bin. Removed some dead crabs and a pistol. Never saw a pest nem or any algae except for the normal small weak gha bloom at the end of the cycle which was gone in a week from the CUC. I put some of it in all my tanks including a new 5g pico and after a few weeks I added SPS and the tank is doing well. No fuss tank :)

if you already have dry I would use it but also add a batch of live with it.

I believe KPA sells base rock that has the bacterial fauna but less pests for those who get freaked out over a pest.
 
OP
P

PghReef

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
544
Reaction score
360
Location
Pittsburgh
I have used both live and dry. I prefer live. My last batch was KPA rock and I cycled it in a bin. Removed some dead crabs and a pistol. Never saw a pest nem or any algae except for the normal small weak gha bloom at the end of the cycle which was gone in a week from the CUC. I put some of it in all my tanks including a new 5g pico and after a few weeks I added SPS and the tank is doing well. No fuss tank :)

if you already have dry I would use it but also add a batch of live with it.

I believe KPA sells base rock that has the bacterial fauna but less pests for those who get freaked out over a pest.
They do sell base which is cheaper as well. I just wasnt sure if itll still come with everything I want from the liverock such as bacteria, pods, myosins, bristle worms, micro stars, stomatellas etc. I do not want crab or montis or fish eating isopods though. I read about gettingt the rock and sitting it out in the open air for a half a day and the nasties drop off looking for water but I dont want to spend the money on liverock to just kill it.
 

Tamberav

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Jul 4, 2014
Messages
2,149
Reaction score
3,227
Location
Wauwatosa, WI
They do sell base which is cheaper as well. I just wasnt sure if itll still come with everything I want from the liverock such as bacteria, pods, myosins, bristle worms, micro stars, stomatellas etc. I do not want crab or montis or fish eating isopods though. I read about gettingt the rock and sitting it out in the open air for a half a day and the nasties drop off looking for water but I dont want to spend the money on liverock to just kill it.

Crabs and mantis are things that can generally be caught without too much trouble. I don't feel fish eating isopods are common. Can probably find so many new posts about dino but I don't see them popping up daily about isopods.

It is risk vs reward. The reward is worth it to me.
 

fish farmer

Valuable Member
View Badges
Joined
Nov 13, 2017
Messages
1,652
Reaction score
2,465
Location
Brandon, VT
They do sell base which is cheaper as well. I just wasnt sure if itll still come with everything I want from the liverock such as bacteria, pods, myosins, bristle worms, micro stars, stomatellas etc. I do not want crab or montis or fish eating isopods though. I read about gettingt the rock and sitting it out in the open air for a half a day and the nasties drop off looking for water but I dont want to spend the money on liverock to just kill it.

I've never bought KP base rock so I can't comment on what the diversity is like, but did buy a similar coralline base rock from another rock farmer many years ago. It had plenty of critters, macro algae sprouts, sponges, etc. I got about 8 baby and I mean really tiny almost unseen urchins on 30 lbs of rock, which grew pretty fast.

I would do a mix dry and live. I really do like the life you can get on the Florida rock, BUT sometimes it is too much life...like big bivalves and barnacles which will more than likely not survive unless you put the effort in. I saw someone's tank who got "The Package" from TBS..really cool stuff.
 

saf1

5000 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Jan 15, 2018
Messages
7,142
Reaction score
12,396
Are you upgrading or side grading? What I'm asking is are you going to move anything from existing tanks, or holding tanks, to this new tank? Curious.

Here is the deal. My opinion. I would never, ever, recommend or use dry rock again. Especially Pukani. Why? Simple. It takes years to get the biological filter established throughout the entire rock. What does that mean because it is cycled and can process 4 ppm ammonia in under 24 hours you say, cycle is complete. No, it isn't. Pukani is very porous. Lots of nooks, crannies, holes, and depending on the size surface area. It takes a very long time for mother nature to do her work.

Example. You have a piece of Pukani and everything is good. Cycle is complete. One month, two, and say three months go by and you start to see the rock change from the tan, white color to a more off white with corraline algae starting to take hold. It went through the phases of diatoms, maybe cyano, and GHA but clear now. All under control. Take that same rock, lift it up, turn it 90 degrees or even 180 degree and now tell me what it looks like. Right. It looks as new as you first put it in. That is my point about taking a couple years to fully mature.

I have 150 lbs of this stuff. Tank is 2 years old. I can take a rock out of my tank, take hammer and chisel to it, split it, and the rock will look as new as when I first put it in. Furthermore I may, or may not, pull out a strand of seaweed (true story). On the surface I'll have a nice purple algae growth covering everything but behind and inside the rock is another story. It just takes time. And I'm not even talking about the potential phosphate leaching.

150 lbs of the stuff. Pressure washed. Placed in bins outside with a power head. Added bleach to each bin. Let sit over night / 24 hours. Empty. Repeat another round of bleach. Once that was done pressure wash again, fill back up, add lanthanum chloride, power head, sit for 24 hours. Empty, repeat, empty, repeat this time for 48 hours, pressure wash. Aquascape, fill up with rodi water, salt, let set 24 hours. Calculate 4 ppm dose, dose amount, let sit 24 hours, test, verify, add Dr. Tim's, start cycle.

28 days later or so complete. All is good. Leave it alone, no lights, no skimmer, feed here and there, measure parameters, all good. Come back 3 months and get ready to merge tanks / upgrade. All is well. Unfortunately all things showing positive signs and parameters I still lost some corals and fish because of the move. Looking back I think it was because I moved everything as a big bang, single move which probably shocked the cycled tank. In fact, I'd wager that is exactly what happened. But....it still sits with me had I used different rock it may have been a better story to tell.

TL; DR - I will never use it again. 2 years it - it is amazing. I can see it. However, had I raided my daughters college money (I'm kidding) (ok, just a little bit kidding) and used TBS like I originally planed I would have been a lot happier and further down the road than where I am today.

Patience is king in this hobby so I roll with my choice. However, I personally wouldn't recommend it just because on the surface it will look pretty but moving it like I suggested or even splitting it, well, you will see it isn't.

Edit: Sorry for the long post :)

Edit 2: Forgot to say the one factor people always bring up and that is around pest control, pests, crabs, hitch hikers, etc. All fine and good points. However, the first time you introduce a item from an outside source, regardless of who it is from and the procedures you follow, you just broke the sterile / hitch hiker guarantee. Fish, coral, frag plug, rock with frag on it = risk. Just throwing that out there.
 
OP
P

PghReef

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
544
Reaction score
360
Location
Pittsburgh
Are you upgrading or side grading? What I'm asking is are you going to move anything from existing tanks, or holding tanks, to this new tank? Curious.

Here is the deal. My opinion. I would never, ever, recommend or use dry rock again. Especially Pukani. Why? Simple. It takes years to get the biological filter established throughout the entire rock. What does that mean because it is cycled and can process 4 ppm ammonia in under 24 hours you say, cycle is complete. No, it isn't. Pukani is very porous. Lots of nooks, crannies, holes, and depending on the size surface area. It takes a very long time for mother nature to do her work.

Example. You have a piece of Pukani and everything is good. Cycle is complete. One month, two, and say three months go by and you start to see the rock change from the tan, white color to a more off white with corraline algae starting to take hold. It went through the phases of diatoms, maybe cyano, and GHA but clear now. All under control. Take that same rock, lift it up, turn it 90 degrees or even 180 degree and now tell me what it looks like. Right. It looks as new as you first put it in. That is my point about taking a couple years to fully mature.

I have 150 lbs of this stuff. Tank is 2 years old. I can take a rock out of my tank, take hammer and chisel to it, split it, and the rock will look as new as when I first put it in. Furthermore I may, or may not, pull out a strand of seaweed (true story). On the surface I'll have a nice purple algae growth covering everything but behind and inside the rock is another story. It just takes time. And I'm not even talking about the potential phosphate leaching.

150 lbs of the stuff. Pressure washed. Placed in bins outside with a power head. Added bleach to each bin. Let sit over night / 24 hours. Empty. Repeat another round of bleach. Once that was done pressure wash again, fill back up, add lanthanum chloride, power head, sit for 24 hours. Empty, repeat, empty, repeat this time for 48 hours, pressure wash. Aquascape, fill up with rodi water, salt, let set 24 hours. Calculate 4 ppm dose, dose amount, let sit 24 hours, test, verify, add Dr. Tim's, start cycle.

28 days later or so complete. All is good. Leave it alone, no lights, no skimmer, feed here and there, measure parameters, all good. Come back 3 months and get ready to merge tanks / upgrade. All is well. Unfortunately all things showing positive signs and parameters I still lost some corals and fish because of the move. Looking back I think it was because I moved everything as a big bang, single move which probably shocked the cycled tank. In fact, I'd wager that is exactly what happened. But....it still sits with me had I used different rock it may have been a better story to tell.

TL; DR - I will never use it again. 2 years it - it is amazing. I can see it. However, had I raided my daughters college money (I'm kidding) (ok, just a little bit kidding) and used TBS like I originally planed I would have been a lot happier and further down the road than where I am today.

Patience is king in this hobby so I roll with my choice. However, I personally wouldn't recommend it just because on the surface it will look pretty but moving it like I suggested or even splitting it, well, you will see it isn't.

Edit: Sorry for the long post :)

Edit 2: Forgot to say the one factor people always bring up and that is around pest control, pests, crabs, hitch hikers, etc. All fine and good points. However, the first time you introduce a item from an outside source, regardless of who it is from and the procedures you follow, you just broke the sterile / hitch hiker guarantee. Fish, coral, frag plug, rock with frag on it = risk. Just throwing that out there.
Plan was a upgrade but it's been riddled with so many algae problems I think I'll just start new and transfer fish over. My last tank I started with pukani was fine but I did not bleach or acid bath anything, just a slow cycle. This time I bleached and acid bathed so the rock was clean as a whistle and cycled in a dark brute for 6 months. I think it was too clean. No breakdown from inside the rocks means no life is going to colonize there.
All liverock isnt an option, to expensive and itd be a waste of all my unused pukani. I love being able to chisel and scape how I want without worry and rushing to get it wet. I don't think I'll ever bleach the rock again as it's just too clean.
 
OP
P

PghReef

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
544
Reaction score
360
Location
Pittsburgh
Edit 2: Forgot to say the one factor people always bring up and that is around pest control, pests, crabs, hitch hikers, etc. All fine and good points. However, the first time you introduce a item from an outside source, regardless of who it is from and the procedures you follow, you just broke the sterile / hitch hiker guarantee. Fish, coral, frag plug, rock with frag on it = risk. Just throwing that out there.
100% agreed which is why I'm willing to overlook some pest. That was a melanarus wrasse is for at the end of the day
 

MichaelE

Well-Known Member
View Badges
Joined
Mar 4, 2018
Messages
776
Reaction score
1,175
I would definitely go with live rock as a base if you can source some of decent quality, it’s superior in every way except the occasional nasties that may come with it (I’ve never gotten anything that wasn’t fairly easy to get rid off).
 

jda

7500 Club Member
View Badges
Joined
Jun 25, 2013
Messages
8,928
Reaction score
12,370
Location
Boulder, CO
At least get a 30-50 pound pack of some live rock to help along any dry rock that you can get. The more live the better, but some live is better than none.

People talk about the pests on live rock, but isn't hair algae, dinos, diatoms pests also? Your aiptasia, bubble algae, etc. will come in on frags if you do not QT - this has nothing to do with live vs. dry, rather QT/isolation vs straight-in-the-tank.

Lastly, tanks with no/dry sand and dry/dead rock are sterile environments for fish diseases to breed and attack. In a tank with real biodiversity (not just bacteria in a bottle), an ich tomont, for example, will have to fight for their lives in the sand with all of the other fauna looking for something to consume. In the olden days, people used to say that mature tanks rarely have diseases - some used to think that this was from stable water parameters, but it mostly was because the tank would hunt down pests in a true ecosystem.
 
BRS

Do you own your DREAM CORAL?

  • Yes (please tell us what in the thread)

    Votes: 37 16.4%
  • NO

    Votes: 182 80.5%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 7 3.1%

Online statistics

Members online
2,504
Guests online
6,768
Total visitors
9,272
GHL Advanced Technology
Top