Think I Was Wrong…It HAS TO Be Live Rock

sheel be right

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Ngl I'm kinda in the live rock boat now however in an unorthodox way, when i set up my latest tank i just grabbed a piece of rock from one of my customers tanks who had been established for 5 plus years. he had started his tank with real live rock from the eastern states (aka great barrier reef) mixed with dry rock.

The piece he had given me was a piece of his established "dry rock"

all i did was make my scape with dry rock and then add the piece of live rock to the scape and instantly added my fish from a prior tank and my mate gave me the remnants of a bottle of that polyp lab bacteria which i dosed like once, (still doubt it did much) skipped the cycle due to the piece of live rock being already established and i can prove that the tank had skipped the cycle as i did weekly tests using a spin touch machine at work and Salifert tests almost daily. keep in mind i was skimming since day one too.

Tanks been running for about a year and abit, only just started adding corals again few months ago after i removed this damm porcupine puffer i was holding for a mate who ended up wrecking 90% of my euphilya/fimbrophilya population and also due to finishing school and work opening up. i had run into a minor dino and cyano problem (entirely my fault due to introducing it from a majorly infected tanks coral) which was fixed by cranking up the flow and not doing a water change for a couple weeks, but all in all tanks very stable now grows Acros nicely.


but here is the crazy part...

The customer who i had gotten the piece of rock from had used majority live rock and his tank, he had told me had many pests (including algaes and parasites/unwanted inverts) over the 5 years it was running introduced from the live rock but, but he had gotten rid of almost all of them.... except aptasia :rolling-on-the-floor-laughing: at the point where he gave me the piece of rock....

still to this date until now my tank has been entirely pest free, no aptasia at all, no pest algae's, no flatworms or parasites. of course there are bristle worms which in my opinion are beneficial. i've never dosed copepods or amphipods and i have a abundant supply, this is with the tank being bare bottom with no refugium too.

I basically had all the benefits of live rock without any of the negatives.

Oh yeah and i also don't even keep the piece of live established rock i started out with in my DT anymore it has just been in my sump for the past 6 months and everything's alright still.

I firmly believe of the benefits from microbiome diversity of live rock, but is it any better than established rock from a stable mature system? Or even is it any better than mixing a piece of live/established rock/media with dry rock?
 

DarkReefer

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Never had proper live rock other than some stuff that I purchased to assist with fighting dinos one time.

I had the Real Reef Rock for my first tank however, it was dry when I purchased it so definitely not 'live'.
After breaking the tank down to move interstate, I retired that rock as it was full of vermetid snails and I started with some other 'real rock', possibly caribsea which again was dry. Still having algae issues to this day after having it operational about 1.5 or so years.

The new build I'm probably using a mix of the existing rockwork from this tank (for better or worse)and also going to be utilizing some Java Reef Rock, which is some sort of synthetic rock which weighs less than normal rock work. Will see how this one pans out... So far I think live rock is best if you can get it and it's affordable as it'll no doubt make things smoother in the way of cycling and having the right bacteria faster.
 

JoJosReef

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In my experience with Tampa Bay Saltwater, you can start a dialog with them and talk about your tank size and goals, and they will provide you with the right rocks... Some super glue and an environment to work in, plus the understanding that there is a top and bottom to these rocks will help you create a reasonable scape.

I was setting up a 25 gallon lagoon, and they asked me what I wanted in the way of scape, critters and tank size. They nailed it...

I also held the rocks in an observation environment for several weeks to pluck out undesirable hitch hikers before I got to main DT.
This too. Talk to them about your ideas. I wanted a horseshoe shaped island with a tall peak in the backside, and they gave me some nice pieces for that kind of structure.
 

JoJosReef

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big reveal! dry rock, not carib sea. flattered though, it is all coraline
I've read your build thread and it is really great. You've achieved a level of success with dry rock that is difficult for most. Keep up what you're doing!

Not quite ocean rocks, but you have sponges growing underneath the rocks and plenty of coraline, so you've got an environment to support that kind of life.
 

JoJosReef

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Thanks @jabberwock good point about reaching out to them directly. You did just mention my other concern - hitchhikers :) I know some are good but the others…. Could you explain what you mean by keeping them in an observation tank? And how do you actually catch them
Gorilla crabs = bottle traps with a cut up piece of cocktail shrimp. I actually use the Red Sea test vials and put 3-4 in the tank with bait at diffylocations and different angles against the rocks. Caught all of them easily except one that I speared on accident trying to grab it with tongs.

Eunice worms that everyone calls bobbitts = very difficult to remove, but most should be detritivores, not ambush predators like you find in the indo Pacific. I just stopped worrying about them--they didn't make my tank transfer.

Cirolanid isopods = probably the worst pest. Find the stinky water trap threads. I found isopods but they eere the beneficial Spheromatid variety.

You'll see a lot of worms. They aren't all that bad. Dorvillidae worms are fine but freaky. Lancelets aren't even worms but look and behave freaky--they are unable to survive in tanks so die off. Great if you get spaghetti worms, they're the best. If you're really lucky you can get a Clymenella worm aka spike-funnel-anus worm (my name for it, hasn't been widely adopted yet).

Fireworms and bristleworms = if you don't want them try baiting cut pieces of cocktail shrimp tied inside of women's stockings. They get their bristles stuck and can easily be pulled out in the AM

I haven't seen majanos or aiptasia on gulf live rock yet, but those you would want to take care of in the traditional way quickly if you positively ID them (don't make a mistake and nuke a hidden cup coral or ball nem!)

There are others, but those are the ones most people wet themselves over.
 

SFREEF3R

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I started my tank with 3/4 dry rock and 1/3 live rock (Gulf live rock).

The dry rock was great for building some more complex rock structures. And the live rock came in with a ton of interesting life.

Hitchhikers weren’t too bad. Had a handful of Aiptasia that came in on the love rock that I killed with Ailtaisa-X. Took a couple of tries on some but ultimately eradicated them. Extracted one Eunice worm that took a liking to Zoas.

Vermatids are my most annoying annd persistent hitchiker and they came in on a snail that I added. Not from the live rock.
 

SFREEF3R

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I started my tank with 3/4 dry rock and 1/3 live rock (Gulf live rock).

The dry rock was great for building some more complex rock structures. And the live rock came in with a ton of interesting life.

Hitchhikers weren’t too bad. Had a handful of Aiptasia that came in on the love rock that I killed with Ailtaisa-X. Took a couple of tries on some but ultimately eradicated them. Extracted one Eunice worm that took a liking to Zoas.

Vermatids are my most annoying annd persistent hitchiker and they came in on a snail that I added. Not from the live rock.
 

tharbin

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I’m a firm believer in live rock. Hitchhikers are a part of the hobby since they are a part of the ocean we are trying to ‘replicate’. They can be a nuisance, but they can happen whether you start with live or dry.

That said I break dry rock down into several categories and I think your dry rock experience will be influenced by the type of dry rock you use.

There was home-made rock back in the 70s and 80s but I don’t really think it is a thing today. It was the alternative to dried coral skeletons that many of us started with. If you think cleaning up GHA on some CaribSea Life Rock is hard, try doing it on a basketball-sized piece of organ pipe skeleton or tabling Acropora. It was not fun or easy.

There is what we used to call base rock, the same thing as live rock but dry and lifeless and generally more boulder-shaped but real coral base rock from the ocean. Today, tank breakdowns and LFSs are good places to purchase pieces that would be considered base rock.

There is quarried dry rock, mined from ancient reefs, like Marco Rock or Stax. While similar to base rock it is more compressed than base rock but still fairly porous and somewhat natural looking.

Then there is manufactured dry rock like Life Rock or Real Reef. I have yet to find one that truly rivals even quarried dry rock. They look good and many are seeded with bacteria that you could easily add, or just wait a while to develop on their own but they are not rock. They are rock powder, and sometimes sand, fused into pleasing shapes and painted/stained to look like they are from the reef.

I feel that the type of rock used is more important than whether you start with live or dry rock. Eventually, most of what you want in your tank will appear through random hitchhiking. It may take years and maybe some purposeful introductions, like brittle stars or sponges.

Rock from the ocean, whether live or dry is more porous and a better habitat than any of the manipulated alternatives. Quarried rock is a good compromise that is still very porous and natural but less so than uncompressed ocean rock.

I will never again put a piece of manufactured rock into a reef aquarium. I would give up the hobby before using it again. It looks pretty. That is all I will say for it.

My understanding is that today’s live rock is mainly, except for occasional imports from Australia or elsewhere, quarried rock that is placed in reef location farms and allowed to seed with life. That makes a good start for a tank, but the underlying rock is not what we knew in the 80s-90s, It is good but not great.

I think that the combination of good base rock and live sand is probably what I would use for my next tank.
 

jda

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How many threads with people quitting do you see because of dinos and hair algae - lots. How many people cannot figure out a worm or shrimp - none... they just have to try for a few days and if they cannot catch them, a drill bit down the hiding hole solves the issue (crudely, though).
 

MnFish1

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I've read your build thread and it is really great. You've achieved a level of success with dry rock that is difficult for most. Keep up what you're doing!

Not quite ocean rocks, but you have sponges growing underneath the rocks and plenty of coraline, so you've got an environment to support that kind of life.
My build is also completely dry rock, excepting a couple pieces of rock from an older in the sump.
 

JoJosReef

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How many threads with people quitting do you see because of dinos and hair algae - lots. How many people cannot figure out a worm or shrimp - none... they just have to try for a few days and if they cannot catch them, a drill bit down the hiding hole solves the issue (crudely, though).
This is true. There is great fear about getting a pistol shrimp, mantis shrimp or gorilla crab, but people can spend months at a time fighting dinos. And the money spent on fighting these outbreaks easily makes up for the cost of quality rocks and sand at the start. Learned my lesson with CaribSea LifeRock. Guess everyone has to learn theirs somehow ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 

JoJosReef

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My build is also completely dry rock, excepting a couple pieces of rock from an older in the sump.
I buy coral from a local that runs a pristine tank all from dry rock. The attention he gives the tank is exceptional, so dry rock tanks can for sure be very successful and, indeed, may be one of the only options depending on where you live. Should be a point of pride for the ones who do it well. A different process than "importing" stability/maturity from ocean rocks, though.
 

MnFish1

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I buy coral from a local that runs a pristine tank all from dry rock. The attention he gives the tank is exceptional, so dry rock tanks can for sure be very successful and, indeed, may be one of the only options depending on where you live. Should be a point of pride for the ones who do it well. A different process than "importing" stability/maturity from ocean rocks, though.
it is my impression that much of the biodiversity present on live ocean rock dies off. Though it sounds like a great idea to use live rock, and I agree that potentially, there may be an advantage when combatting certain algae, over time the biodiversity of the live rock becomes less important than the biodiversity of the corals etc brought into the tank. Just my opinion/experience
 

dannyd_

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I've read your build thread and it is really great. You've achieved a level of success with dry rock that is difficult for most. Keep up what you're doing!

Not quite ocean rocks, but you have sponges growing underneath the rocks and plenty of coraline, so you've got an environment to support that kind of life.
Thank you I appreciate it, haven't updated it in a long time school has taken priority recently, but hope to continue it soon.
 

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