Live Rock


 "Live rock" itself is not actually alive, but rather is simply made from the aragonite skeletons of long dead corals, or other calcareous organisms. A common fixture in saltwater aquariums that contributes to a healthy ecosystem and helps with tank upkeep. But sometimes when you bring live rock home, sometimes that's not all you're bringing home 

What is live rock?

Live rock is rock harvested from a natural source

  • Not just rocks but also coral

  • Helps to give a frame work for your tank

  • Also has the benefit of coming loaded with bacteria to help with cycling

Episode: File 0070: A Guide to Rock and Ruin Pt. 3

Release Date: May 13 2022

Researched and presented by Courtney

Why use live rock?

  • Sometimes it already has coral, seaweed/algae growing on it

  • Comes loaded with bacteria

    • Why do we want bacteria?

      • Beneficial for a tank set up. It's *not* a good idea to just throw fish & inverts into a tank without letting it "cycle"

  • Downside? God knows what you're getting.

Is it ethical tho?

  • Wild Live rock is often gathered by detonating explosives on a reef which is obvs bad but if you're like "idk how that's an issue" lemme break it down for you Elon

    • You're damaging more than what you're trying to harvest

    • Explosives are hard on fish (who'da thunk) and not just ones that might be nestled in the area you're attacking trying to hide

    • Our reefs are already having a hard enough time existing without having people blowing their shit up

  • You're also potentially harvesting/harming wild fish/inverts that are endangered

    • I would argue that even "non endangered" species on reefs are in danger but what do I know I study shit in the PNW

  • You can get "artificial" live rock where rocks are put into an established tank and colonized by the living goodness you wanna share with your new set up

  • Salt water tanks and bobbit worms

    • What is a bobbit worm

Bobbit worm

CW: sexual violence, regular violence, animal death, animal abuse  

Eunice aphroditois

  • Polychaete worm AKA a jawed fucker

  • Honestly the stuff of nightmares

  • Very aggressive, blind, ambush predator

    • But Courtney, if they're blind, how are they dangerous

      • WELL MY ABLESIT FRIEND, they have antenna they use to Daredevil around them and BITE BITE BITE BITE 

Horror stories

ziggy222 on 3Reef

my biggest mistake i ever had was to listen to a couple local fish stores for advice. they had me put red lava rock in a saltwater tank with 2 puffers. they were slowly poisoned to death but i replaced them and went through many fish before i found out why. i let my skimmer go without adjusting it then turned it off for a month and the fish jumped out cause the toxins built up. i put too big of a clean-up crew and the hermits went to battle. little hermit arms and legs laying all over the sand. lfs told me i could have a chocolate chip sea fish in a reef and it ate everything. i handled live rock with my bare hands when aquascape and bristle worms stung me. the next day my hands felt like they were on fire and red. i bought a carnation coral without researching it. i believed the store that it would live in my tank lol. they have a lifespan of a few months in captivity. i mixed large polyp soft corals and small polyp soft corals together and the sps all died. i bought a light fixture that sounded like a box fan when the fan was on. i used a fresh water pond pump to save money. i used a hydrometer that went bad and had my salinity at 1.031. having the salinity that far off caused false tests for mag, calcium, alk, and ph so i tried to correct it by adding additives. i added a rock with hundreds of beautiful purple zoos on it right into my tank. i later discovered it also had dozens of zoo eating nudi's on it and lost the whole rock. i dis a large water change using a new brand of salt. i placed my tank in front of my ac unit in the winter and had to move the whole tank 6 inches to the right when summer took 10 hours. most mistakes can be avoided by not trusting your local fish store but doing you own research, and not buying cheap end results. i'm glad i hung in just takes some time and every penny you have lol. 

egwich on Reef2Reef 

apologize if this is in the wrong spot but I wanted to share my experience with everyone, and especially for newbies who are just starting out in the hobby (like I was about a year ago). When you first start off there is A LOT to learn and it's overwhelming. One of the first things you do is buy live rock when establishing a tank. My biggest regret is not buying the man made live rock which does not come with critters. My original rock has ended up coming with 5 Bobbit Worms and 1 Mantis Shrimp. I've also come to realize today, that a Bobbit worm has been responsible for two deaths in my tank in the past month.

[...] I had a beautiful Kole Tang who slept every night underneath a rock (see picture below). It created a cave and he loved it. As of a month ago I had successfully eradicated 4 Bobbit Worms and thought they were all dead and gone. That rock/cave was the last piece of live rock from my original batch. I've slowly replaced all the rock with dry rock. One morning I woke up and found that my Kole Tang had a nasty cut that literally pierced through his back tail. The hole was almost like I took a screwdriver and pushed it through. The Kole Tang was fine, but then he had another slash, and then suddenly one day I found him under the rock dead. I suspected something was in my tank (since I've had a party of predators hitch hike in there already). I ended up buying a Flameback Dwarf. Beautiful little guy. He seemed to get along peacefully with my clowns, royal gramma, goby, and anthias.

He slept underneath the same cave that the Kole did. A week later he has a large gash on the side of him and it's infected. Today he was hiding under his rock, and I was about to quarantine him because of his cut and I saw a Bobbit Worm come down from the inside top of the rock and attack the Angel...striking it and killing it. My flashlight scared him back into the rock (thought I could save my angel) but it was too late.

If you're new to the hobby, do not buy live rock from the ocean or at least be VERY careful who you buy it from. I've had my tank for almost a year and I'm still trying to get rid of bobbit worms because they're almost impossible to find. Then you start losing fish, and you think to yourself "maybe the clowns are being ***** when I'm not home" and you start considering getting rid of the fish you THINK are aggressors. It also will cost you a pretty penny having to replace all that rock because the only way to get rid of a Bobbit Worm is to get rid of the rock it is in.

My next move is to get rid of this piece of rock and I'll have no more original rock where the worms came from. The problem is, if there was more than one in this rock they could of migrated into new rock that I have added.

That's my story. Just wanted to share it with everyone.

Bonus stories!

  • While moving pieces of live rock yesterday I must of disturbed what I believe to be a mantis shrimp and it struck my finger. We still have to go get X-rays to see if it is broken or not. Remember when handling anything in your aquarium - wear gloves

    • Mantis/pistol shrimp can also break your tank potentially?

  • Gorilla crabs - eating a bunch of fish in the tank

My opinion as a non-saltwater tank aquarist?

I would just get clean mined rocks and get a jump on my biofilter by getting water from my LFS or a friend to get the tank going. Live rock is cool but not worth fucking up a reef or killing my fish for  

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