Live rock questions Question 

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Rhodes1983

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Hello I’m a newbie to the Saltwater world. I have a 55 gallon tank and was wondering do I have to buy all live rock at the same time, or can I buy them as time goes on and finances allow me to purchase them?
 

Jesterrace

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The biggest thing to understand is that there are several options to go with in regards to live rock. You can go with regular live rock which has lots of established biolife and generally cycles the fastest, but is arguably the most expensive option and it comes with a fairly high risk of pests (ie Aiptasia, Xanthid Crabs, Vermatid Snails, Mantis Shrimp, Fireworms and Bristleworms to name a few).

You can go with dry rock which is cheaper (usually $2-$3 per lb). It's completely dead and will generally take longer to cycle but has the added benefit of being generally pest free.

You can also go with the newer option and go Man Made (ie Caribsea Life Rock) as this is cured rock that has a dormant bacteria coating that becomes active when in saltwater. It's purple colored and is pest free albeit a bit more expensive in the $4 range, but still generally cheaper than regular live rock.

The reason I bring this up is so folks know their options with advantages and disadvantages. To answer your question though, yes you could gradually add live rock/dry rock/man made over time, but the downside is that the rock being added isn't cycled (keep in mind it's your biofilter and it all needs to go through the nitrogen cycle) so you would have to cycle it separately in something like a garbage can to ensure it is good to be added to the tank. Also consider that a major rockwork addition and rearrangement is very stressful on whatever fish or inverts you might have in there.

I went through a major upgrade about 2 years ago and what I did was transfer the 40lbs of Life Rock I had from my old 36 gallon bowfront to my current 90 gallon along with a couple of fish and a cleaner shrimp and then cycled another 50lbs of rock in a garbage can while my 90 gallon ran with the 40lbs of rock to keep the existing biolife alive. It cycled successfully and transferred well, but it was incredibly hard on my fish and I think ultimately led to the demise of my Diamond Watchman Goby. The point is that it is possible, but not recommended.
 
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Rhodes1983

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Thanks for the reply and all the info. I may try option #2 with the dry rock. That way I can purchase all my rock at one time and also not worry with pest.
 

Jesterrace

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Rhodes1983 said:
Thanks for the reply and all the info. I may try option #2 with the dry rock. That way I can purchase all my rock at one time and also not worry with pest.
Lot's of people go this route and it saves money. The other advantage to the second and 3rd options is you can order it in bulk from online sources and no worries about additional biolife die off since it's already dead. If I could make one final recommendation, I would look into the bulk reef saver rock from BRS. It will need to be cured before use (scrubbed down in rodi water) but it is guaranteed pest free.

Here it is:

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/marco-reef-saver-dry-aquarium-live-rock.html
 

HardMind

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Hello, I'm a newbie here and I would like to ask you what's the advantage of live rock and how can I choose it?
 

Jesterrace

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Live Rock's advantage is that it has max biofiltration and established biolife, as the rockwork is your biofilter in a marine tank. The downside is that it is the most expensive (generally $5-$7 per lb) and it can come with unwanted pests (ie Xanthid Crabs, Mantis Shrimp, Fireworms, Vermatid Snails, Aiptasia and the dreaded bobbit worm). Dry Rock generally takes longer to establish the Biofilter and needs to be scrubbed down (aka cured) but is generally much cheaper ($2-$3 per lb) and generally pest free. You can also compromise and go the man made route (ie Caribsea Life Rock) it's shelf stable like dry rock, but unlike dry rock has already been cured and has an inert bacteria coating that becomes active in water. It also has the added benefit of not contributing to the destruction of a wild reef. It is more expensive than dry but still a bit cheaper than live rock (around $4 per lb).

The Caribsea Life Rock was my choice given the balance between the two other options. I did a review of it here and compared the advantages and disadvantages of all 3 options:

 

HardMind

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wow, thank you, to be honest, I really wanted to buy live rocks in my aquarium

11604-7dd5954e6bb209d5bb24512c8dd05ac6.jpg
 

Jesterrace

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HardMind said:
wow, thank you, to be honest, I really wanted to buy live rocks in my aquarium

11604-7dd5954e6bb209d5bb24512c8dd05ac6.jpg
Unfortunately that is the case with a lot of folks new to the hobby simply because they hear about the cool benefits and good hitchikers (ie Brittle Starfish, Pineapple Sponges, Feather Dusters) but end up becoming disappointed when they often spend a mint and get an Aiptasia explosion that becomes a constant fight afterwards. Don't get me wrong, I think that Live Rock has lots of good points, but I do think newbies need to be aware of the potential risks that come with it for the amount of money spent.
 
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