Base rock + live rock good idea or bad?

Col. Buendia

New member
Okay quick question.

I'm in the process of setting up a tank. I am considering adding dead base rock, and then adding regular live rock, and maybe even a few pieces of choice premium rock. I spoke to someone recently who thought that the dead dry rock would cycle and kill the live rock. Is this correct? Could I add the two together or should I do one or the other?
 

Cozmo4

New member
No, that's not true. The opposite will happen...the live rock will seed the dead rock. Many people (including me :)) do this to start a tank. Add them both together and let it cycle.
 

Col. Buendia

New member
thanks for the quick answer. That's what I thought. I guess I should have considered the fact that the guy I was talking to was selling live rock not dead rock.

So you think it's probably ok to buy say 50lbs of base rock, and 50-90lbs of live rock and let it cycle naturally? Any idea on how long that might take?
 

Jack04

New member
I have done this 4 times, works very well.

I usually dose 2 part (b-onic) and have had great success.

But remember that this will require you to stock even slower than normal b/c there is less live rock for biological filtration. It usually takes 4-7 months before I consider my base rock "live" even though you will begin to see some alge growth much sooner but it will have a ways to go to reach live rock level with the life to invade every poor and crevice of the rock. (otherwise my alge magnet and heater could be considered "live" equipment, lol.

This is a much more cost effective method and it helps develop patients.


By the way if you take dry sand and dry rock ( either never having been in the ocean or other body of water) there will be no cycle. This is because a cycle occurs when dead organisms ( alge, critters, sponges, coral) decompose and spike ammonia and initiate the cycle. Adding dry base rock to an established tank will not cause any cycle unless something on the new base rock kills a substantial amount of life on your existing live rock.

So I would suggest using as much base rock as you would like and find a few great pieces of live rock (premium) a hand full or two of live rock rubble (established) andlet er rip.

Also I have switched from using live sand to dead sand and have seen favorable results, it all becomes live from the few pieces of premium rock live rock and rubble.
 

Jack04

New member
I would say if you are looking to put 120 lbs of rock I would use 90 lbs base rock and 30 lbs live.
 

schoch79

New member
"By the way if you take dry sand and dry rock ( either never having been in the ocean or other body of water) there will be no cycle. This is because a cycle occurs when dead organisms ( alge, critters, sponges, coral) decompose and spike ammonia and initiate the cycle. Adding dry base rock to an established tank will not cause any cycle unless something on the new base rock kills a substantial amount of life on your existing live rock."


True but not true. Hypothetically if you can get ahold of some rock that has never been in any body of water this is true. However, the way the Earth was formed and changed, etc. it has all been in a body of water of some sort. Marco rocks for example is well known for this. Their rock is harvested dry from basically rock farms in the earth, it's mined like many other things are mined. However from what I have heard on this sight people have had big cycles with it and some even complain of smelly cycles. All this is because at some time in the past it did have critters in/on it and that is what is dying off and decomposing/cycling. Granted it all happens in varying degrees in different rocks but it still happens. And by the way, I'm not saying marco rocks is bad rock. Lots of people have used it very successfully and really like it, myself being one of them. Just saying it is something that happens and using them as an example since his rock is so well known in this forum.
 

Jim.mer

New member
Why not put cheap base rock on the bottom,I'm doin that with my next set-up, I bought it for a buck a pound.
 

Col. Buendia

New member
Why not put cheap base rock on the bottom,I'm doin that with my next set-up, I bought it for a buck a pound.

thats the plan chief thats the plan. I'm going to pick some up tomorrow. That's why I needed to get answers to this question ASAP. A guy selling live rock tried to convince me it was a bad idea. He said the NH3, NO2 from the cycling dead rock would kill my any live rock I put in there.
 

HanoverFist

New member
A heavy cycle can kill anything still alive on good live rock - that's what he was telling you. If you do use some expensive premium you don't want to put i through a massive ammonia spike. You'll want to do water changes to keep the ammonia low, but present. Better yet, just add the premium stuff after the initial cycle is over.

Read the reefkeeping 101 stickies. Especially the parts on Natural Filtration. You should get a better understanding of the "Nitrogen Cycle" before you get things rolling - or you will regret it.
 

mike810

New member
If I were to start up a tank again, I'd go with all dead rock and seed it with a small piece of live rock. Buying live rock you get all the good live stuff but you also get all the bad stuff that you will have to deal with later on.
 

spencefe

New member
No it will not, when your tank starts to cycle the dead rock will soon start to cycle algae and help with your tank.
 

Col. Buendia

New member
A heavy cycle can kill anything still alive on good live rock - that's what he was telling you. If you do use some expensive premium you don't want to put i through a massive ammonia spike. You'll want to do water changes to keep the ammonia low, but present. Better yet, just add the premium stuff after the initial cycle is over.

Read the reefkeeping 101 stickies. Especially the parts on Natural Filtration. You should get a better understanding of the "Nitrogen Cycle" before you get things rolling - or you will regret it.

I understand the nitrogen cycle. I've been keeping freshwater tanks for years and I've even grown and studied nitrifying bacteria of different species in a lab environment. I understand how it works. I just don't know that much about live/dead rock and how much nitrogenous waste I can expect from this process. It would seem to me that unless there is a significant amount of organic material on the dead rock, I will still need a source of NH3 in order to keep the cycle moving along. I guess the trick is figuring out a balance between what I need to keep the tank cycling and too much NH3 which will kill the bacteria on the live rock.

thanks for the link. I'll read it.
 

badvegan

New member
I personally like using GARF grunge when using base rock. I did 100 lbs of base rock, a sack of GARF grunge and a couple of 6 inch or so rocks from my old aquarium the last time I started a tank. Its been a while since I have started a new tank though so I dont know if they still sell it but I think the grunge ran me $10 or so plus shipping.
 

HanoverFist

New member
Oh, you won't kill off any bacteria.

It's any corals and hitchikers on the good live rock that will get nuked. If you don't care about those then just toss it all in the tank and cycle away. Any dead organics on the dry rock will seed the cycle. Adding a pinch of food every few days would be smart too just in case there's not much on the rock to die off. That'll take care of your NH3 requirements.
 

Polahbear

New member
Every piece of dry rock is different, I've had some that were very smelly, and others that were not bad at all.
when I set up my 90 I used about 50 pounds of dry rock. and 30 punds of live rock, plus about 30 pounds of rock from my own tank. The guy at the LFS advised me that I should try running the base rock in a tub before putting it straight into my tank. He didn't say it would kill the live rock, but warned me that it could lead to a big algae bloom, so it would be better to get some of the "stuff" out in a dark place before putting it in a lit aquarium. So i set up a big container and filled it with new water and a powerhead. I seeded it with a handful of sand from my established tank. I could not believe the stink, and the amount of debris that came out of the dry rocks.
Now i also had fish to move too so he may have been advising me that way to protect my Fish.
 

Apercula

Member
When I set up my tank I used a 50lb box of Marco rock and a 50lb box of live Fiji rock. I cured them in a 100g rubbermaid tub together for 2 months, then set up my tank.
 

ken123

Premium Member
No, that's not true. The opposite will happen...the live rock will seed the dead rock. Many people (including me :)) do this to start a tank. Add them both together and let it cycle.

+1, me too!

Did like 30-40 pounds LR and 50 base rock with Southdown sand when you could get it. Had no bad hitchhikers and have plenty of microorganisms. Always surprised when I found something tiny and new in the rock or sand.
 

Ryan927

New member
Im on my first tank, about 6 months deep, and I honestly cant remember exactly what was base and what was live. Its all purple and growing various forms of algae.

The problem I found was finding quality base rock at my LFS. They would take all the quality stuff and just throw it in the LR tank, or so I suspect. Ive found the term "live rock" can be used loosely. Make sure you get what you're paying for, don't be afraid to haggle on a couple hundred dollars of LR if you're going to the LFS, especially if it just looks like wet base rock.
 
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