Why did you choose all dry rock to start your reef tank?

Why did you choose all dry rock to start your reef tank?

  • Specific aquascape in mind (i.e. NSA)

    Votes: 52 34.7%
  • Cost

    Votes: 68 45.3%
  • Easy to acquire dry rock

    Votes: 62 41.3%
  • Avoid hitchhikers

    Votes: 79 52.7%
  • Other

    Votes: 14 9.3%

  • Total voters
    150

Gtinnel

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Doesn't the tank need to be seeded with bacteria somehow though (before adding the coral)?
You can cycle a tank without using live rock, bottled bacteria, or seeded media. If you start a tank and add an ammonia source it will eventually go through the ammonia cycle without adding any obvious source of bacteria. I have never understood where the initial bacteria that processes the ammonia/nitrite comes from, but it does work. It’s just the slowest option.
I have usually started tanks and just added food to the tank to start the process, after the cycle is over and the tank can process ammonia I will slowly start adding fish. Then much later I will add corals. I have not had the best of luck adding corals to an immature tank anyway.
 

Quintin

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I am in the process of acquiring everything to start my tank and I think about this daily. I want the biodiversity in bacteria from the ocean, but the cost of live rock is nuts! So I have thought about getting dry rock for the DT and 10-20 lbs of live rock for the sump. That way I get the bacteria and keep nasty hitchhikers in the sump.
Yup, agreed price of “live rock” from LFS stores here by me ranges from as much a $12.99 a pound to about $6.99 a pound - which is insane, if you think it’s just plain old Marco rock stuck in their sump’s for a couple of months.

TBS is much cheaper, with their premium rock retailing at $9.00 a pound and base rock at $6.00 a pound.

Factor in shipping, unless you gonna go and collect it, you looking at crazy prices.

Which brings the next question;
How much do you add?
Do you wanna deck out on full live rock, get home and find out you’ve got way too much - which is money wasted or skimp and go for less, meaning you still gotta add dry rock to fill up the display to a reasonable size.
 

Quintin

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You can cycle a tank without using live rock, bottled bacteria, or seeded media. If you start a tank and add an ammonia source it will eventually go through the ammonia cycle without adding any obvious source of bacteria. I have never understood where the initial bacteria that processes the ammonia/nitrite comes from, but it does work. It’s just the slowest option.
I have usually started tanks and just added food to the tank to start the process, after the cycle is over and the tank can process ammonia I will slowly start adding fish. Then much later I will add corals. I have not had the best of luck adding corals to an immature tank anyway.
It’s not just a bottle of ammonia and some instant bacteria in a bottle. It’s the biodiversity of bacteria you want, as well as micro flora and fauna that helps keep the tank stable.

Everything needs to be in balance or your system is still gonna be out of whack.
 

X-37B

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50/50 is a good blend. I used that ratio on my old 120. In 6-12 months you wont be able to tell live from dead.
That said on my new 170 build I will be useing TBS base rock.
I wont need premium as I only need the base for biodiversity. It has plenty of life on it and we are growing corals not rock, lol.
I do have 2 pieces of old bleached I may add if needed for structure.
One in the current IM 170.
If money is an issue with a 50/50 blend you will, imo, be ahead of the game.
20240109_101204.jpg
 

Keko21

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I started with all dry rock to avoid hitchhikers. NO3 stays at around 30-40ppm and PO4 is at .08 most of the time. I did get amphidinium dinos but knocked them out via silica dosing. Everything else seems smooth.

That said my next big system will be live rock.
 

gbroadbridge

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It’s not just a bottle of ammonia and some instant bacteria in a bottle. It’s the biodiversity of bacteria you want, as well as micro flora and fauna that helps keep the tank stable.

Everything needs to be in balance or your system is still gonna be out of whack.
All that stuff arrives on the first healthy coral you toss in the tank :cool:
 

Gtinnel

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It’s not just a bottle of ammonia and some instant bacteria in a bottle. It’s the biodiversity of bacteria you want, as well as micro flora and fauna that helps keep the tank stable.

Everything needs to be in balance or your system is still gonna be out of whack.
I’m not arguing against that. The way I’ve setup most of my tanks is honestly probably the worst way to do it, but by far the cheapest. With lots of time the tank eventually matures.
The best way to setup a tank is live rock IMO, but I’m too cheap to buy it. When I first started in the hobby 25 or so years ago I would always seed the tank with some live rock from a lfs. I no longer have a lfs and if I want to buy live rock I have to ship it, which adds even more to the cost.
Just for the fun of it I looked up how much the recommended package with live sand, rock, and cleanup crew would cost for my 125g tank, and it was approaching $3,000 before shipping. If I lived near a lfs that sold actual rock harvested from the ocean at a reasonable price, or even better if I lived in Tampa and could get it directly from TBS, then I would probably still add some live rock to my tanks, but I don’t.
I guess ultimately I have more patience and time then money, lol.
 

apb03

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I think it just comes down to accessibility and cost. Dry rock is by far worse than Live rock, but many of us can't get live rock even if price wasn't a factor.

That said, once your dry rock is mature, it's smooth sailing. I went through some tough times in my tank, thankfully now it's mature. Recently, I decided to set up a nano, I used a lot of my rock from my DT and was fully up and running within a week with no uglies.
 

Quintin

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I’m not arguing against that. The way I’ve setup most of my tanks is honestly probably the worst way to do it, but by far the cheapest. With lots of time the tank eventually matures.
The best way to setup a tank is live rock IMO, but I’m too cheap to buy it. When I first started in the hobby 25 or so years ago I would always seed the tank with some live rock from a lfs. I no longer have a lfs and if I want to buy live rock I have to ship it, which adds even more to the cost.
Just for the fun of it I looked up how much the recommended package with live sand, rock, and cleanup crew would cost for my 125g tank, and it was approaching $3,000 before shipping. If I lived near a lfs that sold actual rock harvested from the ocean at a reasonable price, or even better if I lived in Tampa and could get it directly from TBS, then I would probably still add some live rock to my tanks, but I don’t.
I guess ultimately I have more patience and time then money, lol.
When I first started the hobby back in 2010, I went for the recommended 2 pounds per gallon and the tank looked pretty much just full or rock. Now-a-days, I prefer to go a lot less with a typical minimalist two island scape, which gives the coral loads of space to grow and eventually fill in the gaps.

Had a look at a similar package costing for my new tank I want to setup - Red Sea 300 G2 and comes in at close to $1k without shipping.
Agree with you. Live sand, live base rock, plus live premium rock is overkill.
Standard sand out of a bag, plus some live base rock is sufficient to get most tanks going.
Perhaps a bit of premium for the refugium but that's about it.
 

PotatoPig

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That's awesome. Success stories like this makes me want to setup a dry rock tank just to observe it. Did you seed the tank with bacteria initially?
I think MicroBacter7 starting out just so I could add fish. Started out planning a FOWLR tank and then added corals about 8 months later. The only other bottled life I added were purchased pods (tigger and Tisbe) that I cultured for a bit until I realized the Tisbe had colonized the tank and didn’t need culturing, and the tigger pods were being wiped out within hours of going in. All other pods and other miniature critters have come in on crabs, snails, and so on.

I keep inverts in an observation tank set up with dry rock for a couple weeks before adding them to the DT - and just from these there’s a lot of “bonus” biodiversity in there, including a now rather large Bristleworm (about 8” long) that skulks around that I guess rode in as a baby on an empty snail shell. I keep thinking maybe I should remove it, but also curious how big it’ll get.
 

paintman

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Started with dry marco rocks because it was easy to get and relatively cheap compared to live rock. Once in the tank I seeded it with bacteria and let it perculate for 3 months in total black out. No problems at all.
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SALTWATER FISH HIPPIE

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i started my cylinder with dry rock three years ago. still lokks nothing like live rock really. new build i just could not afford the amount of live rock it would take so dry rock again. i am having second thoughts but i may let the dry rock cycle in the aquarium till late spring and then put in an order w tblr. i had my order in and just decided i could get a hundred punds of dry for 20 pounds of live w airfeight. so one the dry cures i would love to get some premium tampa bay lr just so i can say i tried it one time.
 

Superlightman

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There are no issues created solely by using dry rock, it just takes a couple months to mature. Most issues people are running into are side affects of rushing things and depending on bottles for a quick fix only leading to additional issues. Dinos as an example has zero to do with dry rock and the vast majority of cases are from using bottle bacteria to manage nutrient causing a bottom out.

I love some good ole true ocean rock but these days your just getting dry rock that spent time maturing in the ocean. Hitch hikers can be cool for sure but the cost just doesn't add up.

Dry Pros -
cost/availability
weight, shape, sizes
abilty to scape out of tank with no issues
no hitchhikers

Dry Cons
lack of initial coraline
lack of some hitch hikers (easy to add most anything you want)
Dinos comes from bacteria? have you more information about this?
 

Mikeltee

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Dinos comes from bacteria? have you more information about this?
Dinos is always a part of our Reef ranks. Certain conditions must be met for them to come out of the cyst stage and proliferate. High, LED lighting and low nutrients seems to be indicators that allows this to happen.
 

vetteguy53081

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Having had an LFS, the biggest factor I saw was cost, availability, and preference
 

KC2020

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I started with live rock 40 years ago. I've done both live and dry tanks many times since. The key is patience, with both approaches, and you'll avoid the uglies.

It's interesting that nobody has mentioned live sand. The 'Ocean Direct' live sand works great when combined with dry rock. I just got a bag shipped to me in the middle of winter and my dry rock tank cycled just like it had live rock. I guess bacteria don't discriminate in what they tag along on.

I also continue to add bacteria after a tank is cycled and established. When I add Aquaforest life source corals open up and color up.
 

Caring for your picky eaters: What do you feed your finicky fish?

  • Live foods

    Votes: 46 29.3%
  • Frozen meaty foods

    Votes: 120 76.4%
  • Soft pellets

    Votes: 33 21.0%
  • Masstick (or comparable)

    Votes: 13 8.3%
  • Other

    Votes: 13 8.3%
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