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  1. #1
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    How to cultivate/cure live rock

    I have some very nice, large pieces of totally dead coral that I want to cultivate into live rock. Can I just put these in a large tub on the floor and set it up like a SW tank and seed it with some existing live rock?

    What kind of filtration should I use? Any lighting needed? Should I feed it? If so, with what? Ammonia?

    How long would it take in ideal conditions? A year?

    Thanks!





  2. #2
    Moderator greech's Avatar
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    Yep. No filtration is necessary but a HOB filterwith some carbon and GFO wouldn't hurt. HOB skimmer could be used but again, not necessary. Just saltwater (made with RO/DI), rock (live and dead), pump(s) or powerhead(s) and a heater. The time it takes to seed the dead rock is dependent on how much live rock you use and how much dead rock you want to seed. The quality of the LR will also play a role. If you use fully cured rock all you will need to do is feed the tub as if there were fish in it. You can use ammonia if you want but feeding the tub will work too and probably be easier to mange. Again, if the LR you are using is fully cured, you're not trying to cycle the rock but rather seed the dead rock. The dead rock itself will also have some decaying organics on/in it which will also provide a food source. Its failrly common to have phosphates leach from dry rock which is why I suggested the GFO. Throw in some crabs and snails to eat some of the food and test and do water changes as needed to keep nutrients down.
    SG = 1.024-6; Alkalinity 8.3-9.3 dKH; Calcium 420; Magnesium 1300; Temp = 76 to 80; pH = 7.9-8.3. Alkalinity and calcium are dependent on Mg.

    "You can't be half a gangster" - Jimmy Darmody, Boardwalk Empire



  3. #3
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    2 questions: Why would this necessarily have to be RO/DI water? Ocean water certainly isn't run through this process after washing across a continent into the sea; what is so gruesomely awful in regular well water mixed with salt that cannot be allowed to contaminate a salt tank without immediate horrible death for everything?

    and: what's a GFO? Grand Funk Overdrive? Interesting thought but am unclear what purpose this would serve in a filter.



  4. #4
    Moderator greech's Avatar
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    Yes, Grand Funk Overdrive is exactly it

    No its Grannular Ferric Oxide and it is an effective phospate binding media.

    The reason you want to use RO/Di is because tap water will likely contain higher concentrations of nutrients you don't want (phosphates, nitrates, etc.) as well as the potential to contain all sorts of other things we don't have test kits for and you have no control over once in your system. Your rock will essentially serve as a sponge for these nutrients and while you may not see a ton of nuissance algae in an unlit tub, once you add it to a lighted tank I promise you that you'll wish you didn't use tap water.

    The reason the ocean doesn't need a RO/DI unit is due to dilution which as some say "is the solution to pollution". The other reason would be the variety of life that will consume those nutrients. No way you can compare even some of the largest home tanks to the ocean in terms of filtration. I have read where people ask why a skimmer is necessary because the ocean doesn't have one but in actuality it does. That's what beaches are for .

    Not saying you can't use tap but you are opening up youself to a lot of unknowns should you have issues with algae, fish deaths, etc. once you get to stocking your display.
    SG = 1.024-6; Alkalinity 8.3-9.3 dKH; Calcium 420; Magnesium 1300; Temp = 76 to 80; pH = 7.9-8.3. Alkalinity and calcium are dependent on Mg.

    "You can't be half a gangster" - Jimmy Darmody, Boardwalk Empire



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    thanks greech. See that explanation makes perfect sense now. I am not really (I hope) such an idiot as I sometimes sound in my questions, but I figure asking things in the most open-ended way possible makes for the most thorough explanations. Such as the one you just provided.

    it's ok anyway, the SO has entirely vetoed the notion of a salt tank. (he's right, salt is just so insanely expensive compared to fresh there is no point in even thinking about it.) so I just morosely gather information for its own sake.



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    Ok thanks great advice - do you need the GFO media if you use RO/DI water? Also I don't think anything is going to leach from this coral. It was lifeless in a non functioning (stagnant) aquarium of saltwater for 3 years and then sat outside on concrete for 2 years.

    Don't I need to provide more and more "food" for the live rock the more it spreads? So should I start with a pinch of food and then add more and as the seeding takes place? I would think as the bacteria spread, it would run out of food quickly and then balance out. I want it to grow and spread. Also I'd like to get some Corraline algea growing on all these pieces. The live rock I will be using has some. What is the best way to cultivate that and get it to spread? I had heard low level light. I have an unused 48" 2 bulb CF light that I could use if that would help (120 watts total).

    Also this is a great way to justify the RO/DI purchase as I have at least 60 lbs of dead coral that would cost over $500 if it were fully cured live rock! Woo Hoo!



  7. #7
    Moderator greech's Avatar
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    Your questions were perfectly reasonable.

    While RO/DI will prevent your water from being a source of nutrients, nutrients can find there way into our tanks through feeding and wastes and it can build up fairly quick if left unchecked. Routine water changes using good quality water are by far the best defense against excess nutrients and things like GFO and/or refugiums will help to polish the water and keep trace amounts in check.

    If you are fortunate enough to start off with little to no phosphates, then GFO will go a long way to keep it that way. If you have high concentrations of phosphates to start with, the GFO will get exhausted fairly quick (days) making it more effective and less costly to just do largish/frequent water changes to start and then go to GFO once you have things under control. We're literally talking about tablespoons of GFO added one to twice a month at that point.

    You are correct about the feeding. You'll want to feed enough to ensure you maintain the bacteria you have and also provideb a food stock to increase the population. I don't think that you would need to feed an unstocked tub more than every other day though to accomplish that. Worse comes to worse you just end up overfeeding it and the cycle will kick in.

    Either way I would say you rock will be ready in a couple of months tops and then all the micro life will start to spread.

    Coraline does seem to grow well under lower fluorescent bulbs. The CF light should do nicely. Keep in mind that if the bulbs are old and you end up with high phospahtes in the water for whatever reason, you will get hair algae. Dry coral/rock tends to have quite a bit of nasty stuff on it. i know I was surprised to see the numbers I got using dry rock. Lots of crud can get bound up in those little holes and crevices.
    Last edited by greech; 10-04-2011 at 2:25 PM.
    SG = 1.024-6; Alkalinity 8.3-9.3 dKH; Calcium 420; Magnesium 1300; Temp = 76 to 80; pH = 7.9-8.3. Alkalinity and calcium are dependent on Mg.

    "You can't be half a gangster" - Jimmy Darmody, Boardwalk Empire



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