What Rocks And Sand To Use?

Discussion in 'Saltwater Beginners' started by Punkus_Magunkus, Apr 12, 2019.

  1. Punkus_MagunkusValued MemberMember

    So I was thinking about setting up a small 10g salty aquarium and I have the rest of the equipment figured out. The problem I have is that I live in a pretty small town up in Canada so we have 1 store that sells fish and they only do freshwater. I don't know what kind of rocks I need for a salty tank but I doubt they have them. I'm not looking for live rock, I figure I can cycle it myself. What I'm wondering is where I could get the right rocks and how to know if its the right rock. I only need a small amount for a small tank. Also what kind of sand will I need? Does the sand/rock depend on the fish? I have no plans for corals at this time.
  2. stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    You definitely don't need live rock... never did a piece of live rock enter my tank, but my rocks that started dry and dead became live in my tank. :)

    As for the kind of rock you need, well, it's referred to as dry rock, and it may come up under different names depending on where it was harvested and that kind of thing. What's important is that it's rock that is calcium carbonate based. It should be mostly white (if dry and not live) and will have come from ancient dead reefs. I live in Florida which used to be under water and used to be a huge reef. There is dry rock right under my feet because Florida is built upon the rocks that are left of what used to be a reef. Am I making any sense? Chances are you'll have to order it, but luckily, dry rock is pretty cheap. :) Hopefully the shipping isn't too bad. Here's one example, sold in Canada, which carries the name of my own hometown. :)D Told ya we know our reef rock around here.;))


    Sand... should be calcium carbonate based too. What you're looking for (that is, what most salty aquarists use) is live sand. CaribSea is a good brand, and Big Al's sells it.;) Here's one example, and Fiji Pink is a well-loved, errr... what, color? Idk, but it's good sand and well-liked.

  3. Punkus_MagunkusValued MemberMember

    Based on these being calcium carbonate compounds I would assume they would release some of their minerals into the water column. Do the rocks degrade over time needing replaced eventually? Also how many pounds of rock/sand do you think would work well in a 10 gallon aquarium?

    Also what are some good brands of salt?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2019
  4. stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    I can't say that I've ever worried much about the degradation of dry rock, though, of course, you're right in that they release some minerals into the water and that's exactly what we want.:) Base rock, and in particular, sand made from the same stuff, help to maintain the elevated pH that we're looking for, just like you'd find if you did a pH test of ocean water.:) Usually, when folks ask why they can't use something like play sand in a sw tank, the answer is two-fold... 1. It isn't heavy enough and will blow around. 2. It won't aid in maintaining pH. ;)

    The reason I say I wouldn't worry about the degradation of these rocks is because... well, I'm surrounded by this stuff. Where I come from, these rocks line the shores, and not only that, but it's also used for all kinds of things, including buildings. Check this place out.:D It's been around a lot longer than I have and all structures there are made from Florida dry rock. It has stood the test of time and the power of some truly nasty hurricanes.

    Lastly, (gosh, this is starting to sound awful snotty, but I'm just trying to explain my thinking), I spent my young life in the waters around the Keys, where you can find this rock submerged. I know of particular areas that have not eroded enough to be seen by the naked eye. So, no, I do not believe our tank rocks will erode enough to need replacing for many, many years. Of course, this is all assumption based on life experience, so take it with a grain of salt.;)

    My favorite brands of salt are Red Sea and Instant Ocean. There's some fancy ones out there but I do not believe they do anything special for our tanks. Bulk Reef Supply has done a lot of recent tests on different brands of salt so you might like to check them out on YouTube (BRStv). Along with the guides in the Saltwater Beginner's forum here, BRStv's 52 Weeks of Reefing playlist was a hugely valuable resource when I was getting started. For example, we're talking salt, and everyone will have a favorite, but BRS are the ones that put popular brands to the test.;)
  5. Punkus_MagunkusValued MemberMember

    Last question, How much rock and sand do I need? I figured just a few pounds of each because its only a 10 gallon tank but I saw on some other forums doing some research that I would need at least 10 pounds of rock which sounds like a lot to me for a 10 gallon.
  6. stella1979ModeratorModerator Member

    Aha... and here's where we get into rock particulars.:) The same calcium carbonate rocks will have differences depending on what kind it is. Let's take Pukani dry rock and Fiji dry rock as examples.

    Pukani - A 'light' type of rock, full of both large and very small holes. It's very, very porous and this makes it a favorite among aquarists because that negative space creates lots of room for beneficial bacteria, as well as the microfauna that is present in mature, well-maintained aquariums. Because of this negative space, 1 piece of Pukani will be much, much lighter than another piece of the same size using...

    Fiji - A denser rock, still full of tiny holes but without the larger holes that make Pukani lighter. Fiji rock is what I have and it too is perfectly capable of maintaining a strong cycle and creating safe spaces for microorganisms.

    So, 10 pounds of Pukani will fill a much larger space than 10 pounds of Fiji. If you're looking at getting Florida base rock, I can tell you that it is of the denser varieties.

    I can also say that we got 20 pounds of Fiji for a 20g long, used it all, and there is still plenty of swimming room in the tank.
  7. JesterraceWell Known MemberMember

    10lbs should be fine for a 10 gallon tank. Smaller pieces would be easier to scape in a tank of that size. For sand anywhere from 5-10lbs would be fine.