Dry rock... like watching paint dry.

dreaminmel

New member
The setup is in the archway and well on it's way to being completely framed in. In the mean time the tank was filled with RO water and salted up to 35ppt, the 100lbs of marcorock's deco rock was added along with a couple pieces of live rock and the Seaflor special grade sand. I'm now starting to see the typical brown diatoms here and there on the rocks and sand.

The question of the day... I know that first and foremost the bacteria has to cycle up to capacity of the tank. I've read that ideally before adding my sps back in that coralline algae should start showing up here and there. Is this confirmed or has anyone been successful at adding acro prior to coralline growing?
 

talon4x4

New member
When I recently setup my 90gal tank I just put everything back in right away (SPS,LPS,softies,clams,anemoes) and didn't experience any problems. About 60lbs of the rock was from the old tanks, another 50lbs came from a garbage can in the basement (it was cycling) and about 100lbs of new sand was added. It was about 6 weeks until I saw the first signs of coralline growth, which has exploded since dosing with Mg to try and get rid of the bryopsis. The coralline in the sump is actually plating, its kinds cool. I have never seen it do that before.
 

Conesus_Kid

Premium Member
How long has the Marco rock been in, Mel? Although it's a dry rock, I've read of instances where it's actually gone through a cycle (w/ ammonia spike).

If it were me, I would keep an eye on ammonia, 'trites and 'trates for at least a week before you make the transfer. I would think within that time frame, you'd know whether or not you're going to get an ammonia spike from the Marco rock.

You're experiencing the most difficult part of this hobby: trying to be patient!!! ;)

Good luck and keep us posted. I can't wait to see pics of the new digs!
 

KurtsReef

Premium Member
Is there some coraline in the tank now? It needs something to seed otherwise you could wait forever
 

dreaminmel

New member
Saltwater, dry rock (100lbs), couple pieces of live rock (w/ coralline, maybe 15lbs) and sand (60lbs) were all put in a week ago. Diatoms just started so they're coming into the picture a week into everything running. Any time I've moved or upgraded in the past I've always changed out for new sand but I always used 100% existing live rock. I expect a longer cycle than normal with this rock anyways due to no pre-existing bacteria. The new deco rock has actually been really clean for people who've purchased it compared to the stuff marcorocks used to have. I took a pressure hose to it in the driveway last month and the only stuff that came off was fine dust particles of the rock. It also got a vigorous rinse in RO water. I know that no matter what the ammonia/nitrite/nitrate cycle has to be complete before adding everything but I've collected a few sweet acro frags during this process that I'm paranoid of losing if I put them in too soon. I might try to hunt down who posted about waiting for coralline growth and ask them their reasoning. :)

Oh, and I can't wait to post the pics. Our main computer is unhooked right now as the 55g holding tank is currently sitting where the computer & desk are going to go. I've been posting using our laptop and my work computer for the past month. No small feat either as the laptop has a foreign keyboard... lol. I may try to upload pics w/ it over the weekend at some point but won't promise.
 

captain7359

New member
Mel, Can you take water from the holding tank and use that as a water change in the main tank? That would get all the bacteria going and help the cycle time. Throw some of the marco rock in the holding tank and let it get seeded with the bacteria from the old system.
 

tmz

ReefKeeping Mag staff
Premium Member
A couple of thoughts:

The aged water will not contribute the bacteria you need. You need the benthic bacteria that nitrify and denitrify. Using aged water is good for a number of reasons but seeding a biological filter in or on the rock isn't one of them.You need cured rock or live sand or a culture for that. Aged water will not affect the cycling time.

I would watch the nitrification and denitrification cycle closely just like a new tank which is what it is. I'd also watch phosphate and nitrate.

Both phosphate and nitrate can inhibit calcification in corals and other organisms leading to stress and disease. Dry rock may hold some phosphate. Denitrification takes longer to establish than nitrification so you may have nitrate early on.

Coraline is a calcareous organism also inhibited by phosphate and /or nitrate. Sps are particularly sensitive to higher levels of either of these. So perhaps that's the logic in waiting for coraline before risking sps. However, coraline may not grow very quickly on this rock without seeding and may not grow very much in very bright lighting or if the rock has phosphate adhering to it.

Rather than a coraline watch, I would test over a few weeks to ensure against ammonia, nitrite, nitrate and organic phosphate before placing any sps in there.
 
corallines can thrive in levels of PO4 that inhibit scleractinian growth. I don't think they are a good indicator here.
mel- if you wanna grow corallines really quick why don't you slam the Mg and maybe sprinkle in some Sr as well?
 

dreaminmel

New member
Gradual progress... :D The diatoms only lasted about 4 days and now there's a faint hint of green in a couple of places here and there where the next algae phase is starting. Ammonia peaked and is now declining while Nitrite is on the rise. At this rate I'm hopeful that Nitrite will dip back down relatively quickly and perhaps I can add a few more life forms in the next week or so. Yes... my fish are in the tank during the cycle. I figured out long ago that this is possible and actually a very effective way to cycle as long as I'm diligent about monitoring levels and performing water changes to head off possibly harmful Ammonia or Nitrite levels. Fish = Sailfin, Tennenti & Atlantic Blue tangs, a yellow canary wrasse and a green chromis. I've also added my conch snail and one of my large mexican turbo snails.

I did some more reading and don't really see coralline as being a necessary indicator for safety of sps. I had transferred all live rock and coral to the 55g tank over a month ago and everything was fine even though coralline just barely started growing on the sides and bottom of the 55g last week.

I'm not going to say anything definitive yet to avoid jinxing myself but I'm guessing that once all of this cycling is done I may be able to say wonderful things about this dry rock. I was warned by many people that I may experience a horrible algae outbreak from things in the dry rock but so far it's been performing much better in that aspect than my experiences with live rock over the years. Every time I've set up a display with live rock I've gone through no less than 2-3 weeks of diatoms followed by long battles with hair algae and/or cyano. Makes me think there's less gunk inside the dry rock than what has built up in the live rock that is sold to us... I'm not out of the woods yet though. ;)
 
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dan10342

New member
Makes me think there's less gunk inside the dry rock than what has built up in the live rock that is sold to us... I'm not out of the woods yet though.

I might be wrong, but there are different type of dry rocks?

I know "Reef bones" which is literally, live rock that has been dried, (IME) has potential to cause massive algea outbreaks in the beginning, due to all of the dead and dry life on it.

however, ceramic reef rock, which i don't believe any form of life has ever touched it, would be less apt to cause an algea outbreak, because there is nothing "dead" on it to cause any nutrient spikes.


-dan
 

dreaminmel

New member
And then there are places where rock that used to be live many eons ago is quarried. I believe there's a point throughout the years where stuff within rock may become so "petrified" or inert that it is no longer cause for concern. But yes, there are different forms of dry rock.
 

tmz

ReefKeeping Mag staff
Premium Member
I don't think decaying matter is a worry on macro rocks;they look very clean. Phosphate could be though if it precipitated onto the rock at some point in it's history.
 

dreaminmel

New member
Ho hummmm...

Nitrite is still measurable but Nitrate is at least slightly on the rise now. All done and said I think it'll work out to about a month of cycling time using 100lbs dry rock and 15lbs pre-existing live rock. All fish are still wonderful and continuing to beef up. The little encrustations of orange and purple caps on the live rock I used have survived the cycle to date. (Out of curiosity I also have frogspawn and ricordea in the tank and they have also been fine during the whole cycle so far.) I finally got the halides up and running yesterday. I've been watching a large increase in the copepod population but haven't seen a large amphipod increase yet.

Disclaimer: The fact that I've got fish and coral going through a cycle process in my tank does not automatically make it a good idea for anyone else. I still think it's best that people cycle the fishless way and not add coral until things settle. I only went this route with the fish because I've found it is possible to do without harming the fish if things are kept under control. The corals that I included were duplicates that I was willing to risk in an effort to find out their tolerance for this process. I did not attempt to test the limits of any sps other than the montipora nor do I ever intend to. ;)

Once the cycle is complete I'll be doing a large water change to reduce the Nitrate level back down below 10ppm and then will begin acclimating the coral to the halides again. At that point I'll also tie in the refugium with chaeto and add carbon to the sump. Skimmer has already been running for the past week.
 

captain7359

New member
**Photo thread of tank relocation coming soon...**


You took the pictures of the nice round overflow holes and that's all I've seen. Any more progress picts?
 

dreaminmel

New member
:D I do have a few of the build and one of how the tank looks now but not much has changed over the past month. I was hoping to take a pic once all of the coral gets placed so that there's a nice group of progress pics all together in the thread. The initial pics will show the raw woodwork which will be stained and/or painted at a later date once I make up my mind on which pieces to stain and what color to paint the livingroom so I can incorporate that color as well.

I'll have to get some pics of the sump too. I don't have the refugium hooked in line yet as I've still got to get it drilled which entails determining what size bulkhead I need. I've got plenty of 1.5", 1" and 3/4" pvc hanging around.
 

dreaminmel

New member
Nitrite was back to 0 as of Saturday. Nitrate was at 10 so I did a large water change. There's currently three algae forms in the tank: cyano, diatoms are back slightly and there's also a slight green tint here and there. These all started receding after the large water change. All coral went into the display Sunday and is looking excellent. In the process of examining the rockwork I noticed tiny spots of coralline starting and it's also on the overflow as well. Hopefully I'll have the dining room emptied of the extra tanks and chaos soon so we can set the main computer desk and computer back up. Once that happens the pic thread will be done. ;)
 
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