Could I use dried live rock and reseed it with live sand in the cycle of the tank

grump299
  • #1
I'm in the research stage of starting my first salt tank. I was looking at live rock verses dried live rock could I use dried and reseed it with live sand in the cycle of the tank. If I do this will it make it longer for the cycle or will it not speed at all.. Any help with this is appropriated thx
 

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mimo91088
  • #2
In theory, with enough LIVE rock, your cycle should be instant. It's benefit is that it's already established with beneficial bacteria and microfauna. With dead rock, you'll still need to cycle it. While it wouldn't take as long with live sand, you still need to wait for the bacteria to grow in the rocks.

Live rock is quicker, but many people start with dead rock to avoid hitchhikers. Anything alive in their system was added by them. I myself prefer the live rock if you get it from a good source. I've not had any pest hitchikers, but I've gotten plenty of beneficial ones that I wouldn't have now if not for live rock.

Edit: Also coralline algae. If you like your rocks covered in it, it is much harder to get it with dead rock. Most live rock already has it.
 

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stella1979
  • #3
Hi! Welcome to the salty side!! Glad to help.

So, in my experience, live sand does not aid much in speeding up a cycle. However, you may get mostly dry rock and add a bit of live rock, which will probably speed the cycle to some extent, though perhaps, not by a whole lot. A little bit of live rock will also bring with it the coralline, beneficial microfauna, and possibly pests... so the additional rock that is dry will be exposed and begin to house these things as well.

If you strictly go with very mature healthy live rock, (which can be hard to come by, and expensive), keep that rock wet during transfer, and keep the timeframe where it is not in flowing, oxygenated water pretty short... then you may/should get an instant cycle. Here's the kicker... most live rock that is sold in stores is not mature. It would be better called, cycled and perhaps cured rock. Because these live rock tanks are, assumedly, purchased from frequently, and rocks are coming and going, the rock that you get may have only been in water for weeks or months. Plus, usually, these live rock tanks are not stocked with fish, so do not have a heavy bioload... so don't provide enough of an ammonia source for those rocks to be heavily seeded with beneficial bacteria.

For my build, I used live sand, dry rocks, pure ammonia doses, and a bottle of BioSpira to cycle. Whether the bottled bacteria really helped, well, idk, but the tank cycled in 30 days. As with all things, dry and live rocks both have their pros and cons.

Live Rock - Pros... It may help to speed the cycle. It will bring beneficial microorganisms and thus, a diversity that will lead to a faster maturation of your tank. Corals like a mature tank in that, if and when you bring them home, they will adjust to your tank faster, so will extend, be happy, and grow faster.

Live Rock - Cons... It can and often does bring pests with it, meaning, easy to get, hard to kill nuisance algae.. or, critters that will compete with or otherwise harm corals (by eating or stinging them.) Pest anemones like aiptasia could come with it, and/or totally wild looking, but not necessarily harmful spaghettI worms can come too. All kinds of things that are tiny or otherwise not easily noticed can come with live rock, and some of these things can be quite difficult to get rid of. So, this is why I decided not to get live rock, and live rock has never entered my nearly 2-year-old reef tank.

Dry rock - Pros... No chance of it coming with anything pesty. Nothing is entering your tank without your knowledge here, and that sealed the deal for me. Also, it's easier to work with... because it's dry. So, you can take your time creating a rockscape that pleases you and will not have to worry about it being exposed to air... or power tools.

Dry rock - Cons... It may need to be cured, meaning, it should be exposed to flowing saltwater somewhere other than the tank, with a heater, and without light. Natural dry rock will contain dead organics, (tiny dry and dead critters, from a possibly ancient time when that rock was live), and these will break down into phosphates and nitrates when the rock is exposed to oxygenated saltwater. Let me know if you need help curing dry rocks. Also, because dry rock contains no living things, beneficial or otherwise, it will take longer to mature into healthy live rock... but this will happen over time in your tank. It can be a slow process, but worth it in my opinion. Let me know if you want any pointers to increase biodiversity in a new tank full of dry rock.
 
Kimara
  • #4
What if you put the dry rock into a tank that had no fish and let it cycle? Would that still be bad for this curing process? I ask because you seem to have a lot of experience, Stella1979
 
Jesterrace
  • #5
You always cycle the rock without fish regardless. As a compromise you could go with something like Caribsea Life Rock. It's dry rock with a manmade bacteria coating. So you get bacteria without the pests. It's around $156 for a 40lb box from Amazon. So more expensive than dry rock but cheaper than live rock. I have used it on both of my tanks and it works well.

 
stella1979
  • #6
HI again. Thanks for the kind words Kimara I must say, there are several reefers here with longer experience than I, Jesterrace included. What I can say about myself, is that I'm the wordiest reefer on Fishlore.

So, indeed, we do always cycle fishless, and in my current reef tank, I did cycle AND cure the rock in the tank... at the same time. In fact, you could hardly call it curing, because I just didn't worry much about that until the end, at which time I found phosphates (PO4) levels at 0ppm. Perfect! Okay, so, some explanation is needed here, because this method is not always wise. It truly depends on the kind of rock we get, which is not always known, but for a good explanation, I'll have to bring up rock types.

Two examples to start, and they are FujI and PukanI rocks, both of which used to be easy to find online. I have Fuji, which is somewhat dense, heavy, with fewer pores and open space within the rock. In contrast, PukanI is not dense at all, extremely light in comparison to Fuji, and just completely full of negative space. See where I'm going yet? Pukani, because of its porosity level, will contain far more dead organics than FujI rock. So, while my rock cured during the 30-day cycle, a few other reefers I know have gone with PukanI (it's lovely and great to rockscape with), and they've reported that it leaches PO4 for as long as 4-5 months.

I feel I should interject here with info about lighting while rocks are curing and cycling. Algae's favorite food source is PO4, followed closely by NO3 (nitrates), but like any plant, it will not thrive without proper lighting. So, while I assume that PO4 entered the water during my cycle, (and was removed by a couple of mid-cycle water changes, and a big one at the end), as did nitrates, (due to ammonia dosing, with high nitrates being the very reason for mid-cycle water changes), my rocks did not grow algae. Perhaps... probably... they would have if I would've turned the lights on. Idk, but might as well play it safe.

There's another option, and that is to go with man-made, or unnatural rocks. There are some pretty good looking options available, and with these, there is no concern about curing or PO4, but man-made rocks still need to be cycled.

My highest recommendation for rocks goes to Reef Saver rocks from BRS, (Bulk Reef Supply.) These are natural rocks and are nearly as porous and easy to work with as Pukani, yet seem to carry a very low amount of dead organics. I haven't used it myself, but via info from online reef friends, I've heard that they don't need curing at all. Best part? They're cheap! Worst part? Sometimes it goes out of stock for long periods, and this is perhaps due to recent bans on exports from areas of Indonesia... idk really, but the bans slightly proceeded this time became hard to find Reef Saver, Fuji, and Pukani.

By the way, Bulk Reef Supply's YouTube channel is an invaluable source of information. Their 52 Weeks of Reefing playlist helped a lot with my own build. Theirs is a dream tank and mine is a budget 20 gallon long, but we don't have to do/buy everything they recommend... it's still full of great info.
 
grump299
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
Thank you everyone for the answers I needed it has give me some options when I start. I will cycle without fish like I always do on my freshwater tanks.
 

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