http://brs.li/DryLiveRock There are two primary types of aquarium rock; wet and dry. Wet live rock comes out of the ocean, and ships to you wet. While it does have live bacteria and desirable things like coralline algae, because it comes out of the ocean it also can have anything on it including pests, algae and parasites.
The other primary type of rock is dry rock. It's mostly just wet live rock that has been cleaned and allowed to dry before shipment, and is a really popular choice. Dry rock comes basically lifeless, but when you add it to water the beneficial bacteria populates on it own. You really couldn't stop it from populating a normal reef tank even if you wanted to!
If you'd like it to happen faster, you can use a booster product such as Bio-Spira. Coralline algae can be seeded simply by adding a coral with some on its base, or by adding a well-inspected piece of live rock.
So why choose dry rock?
1. The actual cost of rock per pound, the fact that you aren't paying for water weight and the shipping cost compared to wet all make it significantly cheaper!
Note: Wet rock almost always has to be shipped with expensive expedited services, such as overnight whereas dry rock many times will ship free with larger orders.
2. The fact that it's dry and doesn't come with life is a good reason most experienced reefers choose dry rock. Most reefers don't have an issue keeping a tank for a year or so, but after that some of the decision we made in the beginning start to show up and causing issues. A big one is the pests that we introduced in the beginning that you now have to deal with.
Starting with dry rock is the best way to ensure we're starting clean, and not adding pests to our tanks.
Not sure what dry rock to go with? Our best tip is to select the one that looks best to you since they all will provide adequate filtration to your tank.
The most common types are Fiji, Pukani and Reef Saver, and everyone has their own visual preferences. Fiji is pretty much the standard live rock in reefing. The individual pieces are more "rock like," and have a relatively smooth surface making it easy to clean before adding to the tank and long term. It also has the most surface area per gram of all the rocks we sell.
Pukani is a customer favorite; we sell about 5x as much likely because it looks amazing! It has a natural network of holes which looks cool but also makes attaching corals easy and provides a safe habitat for micro-fauna. It's also the least dense of all the rocks we sell, meaning you get more rock for your dollar.
One down-side to Pukani is that the impressive hole network tends to hold more dried up, organic material. You'll want to soak the rock in water for a few weeks before using it.
Reef Saver is our #1 selling rock, and it has a few advantages: it's the only rock of these three that doesn't come out of the ocean. It's a calcium carbonate rock which is the same material as ocean live rock, except its mined out of the ground - so it has zero impact on reefs. It also has an impressive hole network that looks awesome. It's also super easy to stack and aquascape because the edges interlock nearly seamlessly. It's a very clean rock and has basically no organics on its surface.
The only downside to Reef Saver is that its a more dense rock which makes it harder for water to penetrate the deeper layers of rock
There are also a few specialty types of rock such as Tonga shelf and branch, which are somewhat difficult to work with. Although, more advanced aquascapers have created some pretty amazing, minimalist scapes with this.
The shapes are pretty unpredictable, so if you're trying to achieve a certain look I'd suggest ordering significantly more than you think you need so you have a better chance of getting the pieces you're looking for.
Regardless of the type of rock you choose, they should be soaked and cleaned prior to use (a process often known as curing). You want to let all the organics dissolve, remove dirt, and build a bio-film on the rock which prevents algae from getting a foothold on it in your tank.
There are tons of ways to do this, and almost all you could have success with. Our suggestion is to soak the rock in heated saltwater with no light, somewhere between 4-8 weeks, with a 100% water change in the middle.
This can be done in a separate container, or in your tank if that's easier. If you do decide to cure in the tank, make sure to completely empty the tank when finished and fill with brand new saltwater.
The best way to know if the curing process is complete is to test for nitrates a week or two after you do your 100% change. If it reads 0, the rock is likely fully cured.
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