Starting up reef tank with half live rock and half dry rock

OceanJack

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Hello all!

It's been quite some time since I had my last established reef tank, I'm finally getting back to the hobby after a 6 year hiatus.
Seems like a lot has changed!

I had a question since it's been so long, I initially started my original tanks years ago with fresh live rock. Had a great source and the price per pound was reasonable, my last tank was all dry rock then I used bottled bac to start my cycle.
Didn't care for all of the phosphate issues I had, the ugly stage and so forth.

My question is, if I bought cured lived rock online and used some dry rock to supplement my aquascape. Will this prevent any algae blooms? Or will the tank still go through it's ugly stage?
 

Biokabe

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It'll still go through an ugly phase, it'll just be less than if you used all dry rock. Ultimately it's a personal decision - do you save the money + take more control over your aquascape by using dry rock, or spend the money and get a healthier reef quicker with live rock?

Personally, I won't be using dry rock for any future tanks. I'll happily spend the money to get live rock, even if that means I need to spend some time saving up for it.
 

JoJosReef

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I think a bit depends on your dry rock and your approach. I used 66% dry Marshall Islands and Fiji previously live rock + 33% TBS gulf live rock that had been in my nano for a year. No uglies, except for bubble algae, but I don't count that as it is happy to invade a mature tank just as much as a new tank.

Things that I think helped (a lot):
1. Quickly filling up the tank with corals and fish. The ocean rock was perfectly fine as a biological filter, and within a month or two the dry rock was purpling up immensely. The corals/macros/nems help with nutrient control from the get-go. The ocean rock makes them happy, I think, and so I never got a lot of build-up of nitrates, because they were already being consumed.

2. The dry rock is very light and porous, not like these heavy cement/mortar dry rocks that are painted purple. I think coraline sticks and spreads on these better, as well as the bio filter.

3. I supplemented biodiversity by adding diluted Fiji Mud (now using AquaForest Life Source instead due to availability). I think this stuff helps. I also think it has a lot of bristleworm eggs, so you'll notice baby bristleworms after a little while--if that bothers you, skip or start bristleworm control measures.

4. Immediately dosing All-For-Reef, 1) for the corals, 2) to get coraline amped up.

5. Aggressively managing phosphates. Had very very low nitrates, but phosphates were higher, likely from the dry rocks. I used PhosGuard and changed relatively frequently until Phosphate levels began stabilizing.

So I think it all depends on your inputs and your approach. Would my approach work a second time? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
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OceanJack

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Appreciate the input.

I last used MarcoRock from BRS to start up my 60 Cube. It was always a struggle for the years I had it, my prior tanks where I used straight up Live Rock. Was rock solid (no pun intended), stability was never a worry with that and it was well overstocked.
 

fishywishy

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the dry rock might go through an ugly stage depending on how much DR and LR you use but it won’t be very long or dramatic. I do this all the time to save money on rocks and I’ve never had a issue.
 
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ReeferHD

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I did a dry rock scape and then added real ocean liverock for biodiversity after my fishless cycle was done, left it in there for a few weeks and took it out since they didn't fit in the tank, 4 months later my tank is covered in coralline and teaming with life, I also didn't experience an ugly stage, it has been my favorite method of setting up a tank so far. also, my tank has 0 mechanical filtration and my nitrates stay under 10.
 
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OceanJack

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My only real hesitation of going full live rock is that, I won't be able to pick the shape of rock unlike dry rock where I can dry aquascape.

Not a huge dilemma but one nonetheless, I think I'm going to just go full Live Rock from either KP Aquatics or TBS. I know KP is stocked right now and TBS won't be shipping out till late May
 

fishywishy

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My only real hesitation of going full live rock is that, I won't be able to pick the shape of rock unlike dry rock where I can dry aquascape.

Not a huge dilemma but one nonetheless, I think I'm going to just go full Live Rock from either KP Aquatics or TBS. I know KP is stocked right now and TBS won't be shipping out till late May
just get some cultured rock then so you don’t have to deal with bad hitchhikers, it will be cheaper, and you won’t have to go through an ugly stage. You can also buy cultured rock in different shapes.
 
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Sophie"s mom

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Hello all!

It's been quite some time since I had my last established reef tank, I'm finally getting back to the hobby after a 6 year hiatus.
Seems like a lot has changed!

I had a question since it's been so long, I initially started my original tanks years ago with fresh live rock. Had a great source and the price per pound was reasonable, my last tank was all dry rock then I used bottled bac to start my cycle.
Didn't care for all of the phosphate issues I had, the ugly stage and so forth.

My question is, if I bought cured lived rock online and used some dry rock to supplement my aquascape. Will this prevent any algae blooms? Or will the tank still go through it's ugly stage?
I can actually speak about this from very recent personal experience. I started a 90 gallon back in September, with half and half along with live sand. BRS recommends leaving lights off for the first 4 months. I did 3.5 months. I started adding pods about a month in. I am now 7 months in, and (knocks on wood here) no uglies at all! I fully believe the whole leave the lights off theory. Some will say it is just hitting the pause button, but I can tell you it worked for me.
 

kenchilada

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100% real ocean live rock. This is the way.
If you can afford it, absolutely! Most people don’t know what it was like back in the 90s when live rock was all we used. I used to buy it by the case in LA literally fresh off the plane. The hardest choice back then was Fiji or Marshall or Tonga :cool:
 

RoweReef

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Yes, back in the 90s we did the same thing in New York. Order and head over to JFK when the order came in. Although some LFS would carry Fiji and Tonga live rock too. Miss being able to do that.
 

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