Mixing rock from different sources in a new tank build

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jkobel

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Hi All,

I'm starting to plan my new tank build and looking for some input. I'm planning on a Red Sea 625XXL which is a couple of steps up from my old 75. My current plan is to use a combination of my old rock (was live, now dead) and some reef saver rock from BRS.

My plan is to use the rock dry in order to stage my aquascape beforehand and maximize my options so I will not be using wet/live rock.

I have never used reef saver so I'm curious if I need to do something to it before I use it. I have read that with artificial rock sometimes people talk about curing it to get rid of phosphates. Is that necessary?

For my old rock, it's dead...like super dead. It's been outside in the driveway all summer and power washed a few times. I'm certain there is plenty of dead material in the rocks which I will never get out but is there something I NEED to do to it? What are my options?

Can I just use all this as-is and start sculpting away or is that asking for trouble?

All input is welcome, thanks in advance!
 
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Ron Reefman

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You are going to put a lot of work and money into this glass tank. Take your time and put all the rock into a container (I use a Brute garbage can) and add a pump and fill it with enough saltwater to cover the rocks. Then you can test for ammonia due to the die off from the old rocks and for phosphate from the new rocks and get the nitrogen cycle started but getting a jump on bacteria development.

Is all this necessary? Probably not. But cutting corners at the start just isn't the best way to get started. I've done it myself, and in the long run, taking your time pays benefits in the end.
 
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jkobel

jkobel

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Thanks Ron,

I'm planning on using the rock dry to do my aquascaping so starting the nitrogen cycle with the rocks seems like a waste of time. Will the Reef saver rocks leach phosphate for sure?
 

Biokabe

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My recommendation:

Rethink your commitment to going 100% dry. If you want to do the majority of your aquascape dry, go for it, but I would pick up some actual live rock to incorporate into your build, and keep it submerged and cured until you're ready to actually start the tank. Get it ahead of time so that you know what shapes your live rocks provide and can plan how to work them into your scape once you're ready to go. This is less about your nitrogen cycle and more about providing a diverse micro-ecosystem... those bacterial colonies do quite a bit for your tank, and it can be tough to replicate them exactly with bacteria-in-a-bottle.

In terms of your existing rock - if you want to start over with your 'dead' rocks, give them a muriatic acid bath (do a search on that, you should be able to find instructions). That will clear out any remnants from when it was live and give you a fresh platform to work from.

Finally, for the reef saver rocks... a thorough rinse and bath should help remove dust and leach out some of whatever is lingering on them before they go into your tank (obviously, using bath in the metaphorical sense... don't get them soapy!). Many of the artificial rocks can leach phosphates and heavy metals into your tank when they're young, so may as well let them leach out into a Brute can instead of your tank. Afterwards, dry them out and proceed with your plan.

Strictly necessary, no, but a week or two underwater could help you start off with a cleaner slate and introduce fewer problems into the equation.
 

zatch

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Thanks Ron,

I'm planning on using the rock dry to do my aquascaping so starting the nitrogen cycle with the rocks seems like a waste of time. Will the Reef saver rocks leach phosphate for sure?
Naw it wont. Reefsaver is just mined calcium carbonate. The old 'dry rock' that leached phosphates into systems was Pukani and other forms of calcified ocean corals that had dead biological material in the cracks/crevices. Reefsaver doesnt have those impurities, its just mined millions-years-old limestone with nice structure.

You dont have to soak your old rock in acid, its very dangerous and unnecessary to clean it. If there is still organic matter built up in it, then soaking it in a brute with some bleach will work, then a few days of freshwater afterwards. Theres an old BRS video about using bleach to clean rock vs acid thats worth looking up.

Because it doesnt have the bacteria live rock has, Dry rock will likely encounter an 'ugly phase' of algae growth while the biological system is sorting itself out before it starts growing coraline algae but this is normal and goes away after a few months.
 
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