If you are a beginning aquarist, you may have heard a little about live rock, but may be unsure how to get started or whether it is one of the reef aquarium supplies that belong in your system. This article is meant to explain a little about live rock, how to use it, and what it does once it is placed in a reef aquarium
If you are a beginning aquarist, you may have heard a little about live rock, but may be unsure how to get started or whether it is one of the reef aquarium supplies that belong in your system. This article is meant to explain a little about live rock, how to use it, and what it does once it is placed in a reef aquarium.
What is live aquarium rock?
First, it’s important to understand that the rock itself is not actually alive. Usually live rock is actually coral that is long dead. What makes it alive is the fact that many small marine organisms such as algae that live in and on the coral, making it a living ecosystem of sorts. Live rock is usually harvested from the ocean—usually from pieces of coral that have broken free from a reef either from storms or other natural processes. There are several different types of live aquarium rock, each suited to slightly different purposes in a reef environment and each offering pros and cons to aquascaping.
What is the purpose of live rock in an aquarium?
There are several reasons why aquarists might consider adding live rock to an aquarium. The first is that because the rock comes directly from the ocean and is filled with an abundance of natural marine organisms, live aquarium rock can bring great diversity to a system. This is not to say that all these marine creatures are beneficial or desirable in an aquarium habitat—that’s why it’s important to cure live rock properly.
In addition to the diversity of sea creatures that live rock brings to an aquarium, it is also aesthetically pleasing in most aquariums. Many aquarists choose to use live rock to create interesting and beautiful aquascapes complete with caves and arcs that aquarium inhabitants can use.
Another (and important) reason that live aquarium rock is so popular is that it can actually function as a biological filter to get rid of “bad” elements such as ammonia and nitrate. The algae and other organisms that come with live rock can have a stabilizing effect on water chemistry, meaning that aquarists do not have to rely so heavily on artificial filters and treatments.
How can live rock be added to an aquarium?
The key to successfully adding live rock to an existing system is patience. Before adding it, you will need to either make sure that the rock itself is cured, or cycled, either by yourself or the store from which you bought it. Curing basically means that the rock has been submerged in saltwater for a long enough period of time prior to installation that all the organisms on the rock are alive. Add pieces of live rock into the tank slowly and give your system time to cycle and adjust before adding more. Look out for dead or dying organisms on the rock that could pollute your system.
Many aquarists agree that live rock is important as far as reef aquarium supplies go. Live rock is a good, natural filtration option that can add beauty and variety to your aquarium.