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FAQs about Live Rock Placement 2

Related Articles: Live Rock, Answering Some LR FAQs by James Fatherree, Live Rock, Reef Systems, Refugiums

Related FAQs: LR Placing 1, LR Life Identification, Selecting, Shipping/Moving, Curing LiverockLighting, Live Rock in GeneralWater Quality, Live Rock Studies in Fiji Collaboration & ChartsSumps, RefugiumsFaux Rock, Base Rock

Question for Bob Fenner: Polycarbonate safety       3/26/15
Hello Bob,
Hope this notes finds you well. I had the pleasure of talking with you at the GIRS event in early March in Waterloo. I was the fellow who had a mass serpent starfish spawn in my 90 gallon.
<Ah; I recall>
I have a question that I am having trouble in getting an answer, so I thought I would turn to you.
I want to use polycarbonate rods in a new aquarium to hold my rock work together. I know I could use acrylic, but can get the polycarbonate quickly and at a decent price.
<Okay; can be done>
Do you know if polycarbonate has any interactions with salt water that I should be aware off? I have looked on the web and really have not found much.
<All that I've seen and used have been fine; non-toxic. Some tanks, sumps, filters... are made out of polycarbonate>
Hope you have some thoughts....thanks!
<Welcome! Bob Fenner>
Re: Question for Bob Fenner
<Welcome Nish! B>

rock set up      2/19/15
Dear Crew,
I have been at a complete standstill in resetting up my 265 gallon tank. I didn’t like how my previous PVC frame held the rocks (it looked very unnatural). It has been months of me looking at a tank filled with water and live sand with piles of rock on the floor in front of it. I need some help to push me in the right direction.
<Get going!>
I need height, stability, and really don’t want to add too much weight. I purchased 10” black milk crates to create a base with the PVC, but attaching rock to it is giving me anxiety.
<Get some help... plastic ties, drilling if necessary... w/ mortar bits>
Initially I ruled out making my own rock out of cement because of the comments I’ve seen on your site. What if I coated the crates in the cement mix (this would end up like a hollow rock)and pushed actual smaller rock into the cement so I won’t be looking at hundreds of zip ties?
<Could be done. Do cure all before using the rockwork>
I could then place bigger live rock on top of this structure to finish the look and add bio filtration (plus the live sand). Would a better option be to use spray foam to stabilize my rocks?
<Mmm; is an option; but I don't like the foam long-term>
I’ve spent countless hours on the internet looking for good examples of what other people have done, but most of them look like a disaster waiting to happen.
As always, thank you for your time and advice. Sincerely, Alyssa
<Stacking rock is an art as well as science... with substrate to rest on, practicing arrangements outside of the tank... you should be fine. Bob Fenner>

live rock in refugium                  ‏            11/9/14
What benefit is there to having live rock in one's refugium (along with plants) if you already have live rock in main reef?
<Just more nitrification, denitrification, food production, nitrate et al. uptake... helps more as it (the LR) is not in the presence of predators>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Hi Bob,
            I have been re-aquascaping my aquarium recently; I really wanted to create a cave so the contrast between light and dark looked really dramatic. It looks good and allows the corals on top to get the best possible light from the halides. I was wondering if there is any corals that would thrive in the relatively low light space in the cave at the bottom of the aquarium as I thought it would look good if I could get a certain coral established, any suggestions?
Deanna White  

Hello Deanna! I do like your idea regarding contrast in aquarium areas'¦ I find that too consistent an illumination not only looks drab, providing an unnaturally bright landscape, but that this is hard on the life in the system; for the species that can choose to 'get out of the light'.
            And you are right in identifying 'corals', the disparate groups of stinging-celled life (Cnidarians) casually labeled as such, as being more or less light intensity liking. A good clue as to 'who goes where' can be had by examining a photo or video of a natural reef. You'll see that the principal families of reef-building, aka hermatypic' corals are the stony (Scleractinian) families of SPS, the Acroporidae, Pocilloporidae and Poritidae'¦ with more fleshy hard corals found in deeper, and generally less well-circulated habitats below.
            In practical terms, the groups of 'corals' called Polyps (Stoloniferans), Zoanthids (aka 'sea mats'), Mushrooms (Corallimorphs), and some of the soft corals particularly the Leathers (Alcyoniids), the Pulsing (Xeniids), and some of my favourite stony corals like the Plates (genus Fungia and Ctenactis, not Heliofungia) are good to great choices for lower spots and direct on-sand placement.
            If you'll allow, I would like to make a few general comments re the mixing of the phylum Cnidaria (the stinging-celled animals) life in hobbyist systems. A hodge-podge approach to stocking is not to be undertaken'¦ with all this life having potent offences and defences to ward off its neighbours'¦ It is only advisable to thoroughly study the life habits of all potential purchases ahead of their acquisition. Indeed, to develop a stocking plan (ask your stockist for help here, and keep a good list of what you already have, would like to add), that incorporates putting in the more sensitive, less noxious and stinging life ahead of more aggressive species. Do try to procure captive produced stocks (these are much tougher and resilient), and small specimens, and allow these to grow up together.
            Much, MUCH more could be stated re the above cautionary statements. I strongly advise that fellow hobbyists read books, magazines, attend hobby clubs and conferences'¦ generate a network of fellow aquarists for input in these matters.
Cheers, Bob Fenner

Re: Planning Question, LR additions, renewal, placement       3/9/13
I have a quick question. I'm re-reading "Reef Invertebrates" focusing on the section on LR and the curing process. There is a paragraph that explains that LR will get "old" over time and that augmentation or rotation with fresh LR is desirable once or twice a year. How exactly is that accomplished?
<Just adding some new/fresh on top of the existing, or taking out some of the old to make space for the new>
 I'm planning my aquascaping so I'll be happy with the formation long-term - am I supposed to take portions apart 6 months from now?!
<Ah no... in about a year and a half... then some new every six months or so>
How would that work if the LR has some corals spread over it?
<The rock can be excised, broken, with the coral bases attached to part>
 I'm also unclear what would be done with the "tired" LR? Is it discarded or repopulated somehow?
<Best to move it to some other purpose... it just isn't "that" useful after awhile... in terms of solubility, nor biota>
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>
Re: Planning Question      3/9/13

Thanks. Sound like that would be too difficult with the rock on top of the aquascape,
<Mmm; nope>
 but more challenging for the larger base pieces.
<Just a small percentage (5-10) change/out. You'll find that this amount has dissolved/disappeared (!)>
My tank is 6 ft long and one side will be difficult to reach since the tank is built into the wall. Sounds difficult.
<... Stop saying no to yourself... Doing so closes ones mind to infinite possibilities. BobF>
Re: Planning Question       3/10/13

Meant to say "wouldn't be too difficult for top pieces"
<Ah good>
 - I'll need to video the current in-wall set up to get your thoughts. 
<Mmm, I spent/invested my life in the trade (ornamental aquatics). Our businesses fabricated, installed and maintained hundreds of such systems>
I guess it all depends how difficult it is to separate the rock.
<Not hard>
  If I end up with 150lbs of LR swapping out 15lbs wouldn't be too daunting.  I was thinking it'd need to do a much larger percentage than that. 
<Ah no; only a small percentage makes a huge difference. A few doctoral theses>
I was planning to epoxy the LR together to make it strong and stable, not sure if that will that make it difficult to separate down the road.
<Am a very negative fan of such epoxying... better to drill/peg and stack if pieces are unstable... >
<And you, BobF>
Re: Planning Question... LR renewal, and now placement    7/10/13

Good to know re: epoxy.  I want to have a lot of openings through the aquascape so I was thinking I'd need something to bond the pieces together.
<Rarely necessary... again, if bommie like arrangements are desired... see WWM re placing LR>
  I've never done it though so maybe I'm wrong.  What would you suggest to use as a peg?
<PVC pipe of small diameter, acrylic doweling... are best>
  Are zip ties good as well if they can be hidden?
<Aye. B>

Book of coral propagation; PVC use     5/20/13
Hi guys! My question is for Anthony Calfo, or anyone who can answer well for him as a follow up question to the book of coral propagation.
<Unfortunately Anthony is no longer w/ WWM... He "flipped out" a few years back, and has no Net relations whatsoever. I'll respond to your query instead>
 In the text, Anthony writes about using PVC pipe as a frame for building live rock structures in order to achieve some nice overhangs, etc in an aquascape.  When doing so, if I have a PVC frame I've built, should I leave the ends of the PVC pipes open or closed?
 I would like to avoid any stagnant water, so I would assume that closed would keep water out of the PVC, thus avoiding creating chambers of water with little water movement, however, it seems to me that if they were capped off the PVC structure would be full of air and difficult to submerge. Which is the better way of utilizing PVC to create a frame from
which to attach live rock without creating dead zones such as those that would be inside an open PVC pipe in a frame structure?
<As you speculate; with no caps, plugs>
As always, I am humbled by your experience and knowledge and look to you for suggestions so that I may increase my enjoyment of our beloved hobby.
Thank you.
<Welcome. Bob Fenner>

Aquascaping…Tempered Glass versus Concrete Pavers – 12/07/12
Greetings Crew,
<<Howdy Ed>>
I was intrigued on Mike Paletta's video on how to start a reef aquarium in regards to his aquascaping of live rock using pavers drilled for a fiberglass rod and adding live rock stacked.
I am a glazing contractor by trade and was considering using 1/2" to 3/4" thick tempered glass with holes drilled for the fiberglass rod in lieu of the pavers keeping the live rock suspended just above the live sand line to prevent any detritus.
<<I see>>
What are your thoughts?
<<Should be fine I think.  Pavers and such are often used because of their cost/availability…the tempered glass will have no effect on water chemistry by contrast, but do make sure to break any sharp edges for the safety of your fishes and yourself>>
Also would it be possible after curing the live rock for a few weeks to add them plus bags of CaribSea live Fiji Pink Aragonite sand at the same time and allow it to stay in the tank for another week or two provided the parameters are in sync?
<<Certainly…sooner the better…and do let the system run for as long as possible/as you can stand before adding fishes to allow the biota from the rock and sand to proliferate free of piscine predators (I ran my current system for 7 months before adding fishes)>>
<<Happy to share>>
<<And to you in kind…  EricR>>

Rock Wall  12/15/11
I saw some pictures of where people built rock walls etc against the back of their tanks using cable ties, foam, epoxy and sand. It looked gorgeous!
But, I am really skittish about putting foam in the 150 gallon tank I just spent a year saving up for. I am on disability and can't afford to spend good money after bad, so I have been trying to think of another way. Do you think this idea would hold up or would the putty fall off.
<I wouldn't use putty, nor any adhesive really. Better to avoid such walls period... Take up too much room, restrict water movement... Better to build bommies... by stacking, drilling and pegging if necessary>
 Cable tie rubble rock to egg grate, fill in gaps with AquaMend. I read it was safe. If not I will stick with the higher price aquarium stuff. It seems those would cover well with coralline and bypass the epoxy and sand step. Do you think this idea would hold up well long term, or the epoxy just fall off?
<Too much likely the latter>
 If you have another suggestion I am open.
Thank You
<Please read here:
and the first file on rock placement FAQs linked above. Bob Fenner>

slate: Support for SW sys., LR above DSB     11/12/11
hi guys I have looked around for the answer cannot seem to find it anywhere so hope you can help
I am setting up my new reef tank I will be using a dsb in main display I have read about elevating the live rock from sand
<Mmm, am a much bigger fan of scooting the sand aside, or placing the live rock first... with flat, large/r pieces touching the bottom... much less chance of trouble from the rock shifting>
and have come up with a plan I will be sawing 7 inch pieces of square pvc pipe and cutting the sides out to create a four pillar stand for live rock I will be using a spray bar at the top of the tank pointing straight down so I get steady flow over the sand = no dead spots.
my question is I need a base for my aquascape in the form of plates without buying live rock is there a cheaper substitute such as slate etc that is reef safe
thanks in advance
<Mmm, well slates are close to being chemically inert, but I'd look for something like PVC sheet, other plastic grating that is nearly completely inert. Look under "plastics" in your yellow pages or their electronic equivalent. Bob Fenner>
Re: slate    11/12/11

Thank you for the quick response sorry I did not clarify I shall be using milliput or similar substance to give the rock stability but just a little so it can be removed for re-scaping so ideally it would have to be a stone base as milliput wouldn't stick to plastic also I will be using a lot of the square pvc pipe I think I made it sound like just four pieces (table legs) but these will be supporting individual hopefully rock bases apologies again for lack of info
<No worries. Thanks for the follow-up. BobF>

Live Rock Into Established Tank Question/Live Rock/Curing 4/7/2011
<Hello Lynne>
I am awaiting a shipment of 50 lbs of Fiji live rock that I am going to add to my established 55 gallon aquarium that currently has 3 fish in it.
Once the live rock arrives, how should I add it to the tank to prevent an ammonia spike that could kill my fish?
<Live rock shipping from a distant location must be cured before placing in your display tank, even if it's sold as "cured" as there will be die off during the shipping process. Best to read here and related articles found  at the foot of this article.
The additional link below will give you Drs Foster & Smith method of curing live rock.
<You're welcome. James (Salty Dog)>

Re: Help! There is something in my refugium - they have tails! & pegging bommies   11/28/10
Hi again Mr. Fenner and all the wet web crew! I truly can't say enough good things about your website! Try as I may - I could not get a decent picture of the critters inhabiting my refugium. They were too small.. However, in disconnecting my refugium for a few days it did not occur to me right away that the water temp would drop - when it did dawn on me - I looked for these creatures and could no longer find them,
<Ahh, "they come and they go">
however all my pods, plants and algae did survive! I am going to keep an eye out and in the future see if I can "catch" one if they show up again.
In the meantime I have an established yellow tang in my 90 gallon. I will be upgrading within the next year to a larger aquarium. Size will no longer be a problem!! Is there any minimum tank size that you would recommend to allow me to keep my yellow tang and add an Atlantic blue tang with no scuffles?
<125 plus... six foot long...>
Or would you recommend never having the two together. Also - this may be a very simple and uninformed question (as most of my rock is stackable) however - I did read on your website than when creating "bommies" it is possible to drill your live rock and peg it. What do you peg it with?
<Most anything chemically inert (like acrylic doweling) or not chemically harmful>
Christine K
<Welcome! BobF>

Two technical aquascaping questions  5/25/10
Hi Crew
Quick questions:
1. Can I use nylon rawl plugs in saltwater?
<Yes; these are chemically inert>
Plan is to use them as makeshift dowels, to prevent lateral movement on high live-rock structures.
Method: drill hole in piece of live rock, insert modified plug, push other piece of rock with pre-drilled hole onto end of plug, perhaps also use putty for extra snugness. See any problems here?
<Make sure the putty is cured, for aquarium use>
2. What are the ingredients for a sandbed in which yellowhead Jawfish can make their burrows?
<About ten percent rubble, the remainder fine sand>
Depth I read is 10cm, but what ratio of fine/coarse/rubble/shells etc would you recommend? Plan is to separate
the base of the tank into substrate and non-substrate areas using glass panels attached with silicone. Do you foresee any problems here?
<Should be fine>
Many thanks
<As many welcomes. Bob Fenner>

Is stacking dangerous? Live Rock Aquascaping 8/28/2009
Hello WWM Crew,
<Hi Terry.>
I have a 150 gallon tank which I believe is 36" tall. My setup has been stocked and running for 3 years, and it contains about 90 pounds of live rock, with another 30-40 pounds in the 50 gallon refugium.
Recently I decided I would like to add more rockwork to the tank and stack rock to the top of the tank up the back glass.
<Don't really recommend putting it against the back glass - it creates dead spots, difficult to clean, can create pressure points on the glass>
I plan to use key largo rock. I feel that this would look much better and of course supply much greater filtration quality.
However, I am worried about the weight of the aquarium, will it be the same?
<No, it will add the weight of the rock minus the weight of the volume of water displaced by the rock. Depending on the rock, the tank could weigh quite a bit more. For all practical purposes the change is not going to be significant enough to worry about. You will run out of swimming room long before you overload the tank with rock.>
How much rock can a 150 gallon tank usually support?
< 1 - 1.5lb per gallon of volume is considered a good balance between live rock and adequate swimming room for your livestock. As to what is the maximum weight it can support, between the rock and the water, more than you can put in it. As a reference, figure a tank weighs 10 pounds per gallon of capacity when filled. - so your 150 gallon tank with live rock weighs in somewhere around 1500 pounds right now.>
I have decided that if stacking the rock is the only way, I would like to use about 20 lb. Pieces?
<Near the bottom only I would not want 20 lb pieces high up in my tank. A 'landslide' could be devastating to your livestock or to the glass.>
Do you think this is too large?
<For anything higher than a few inches off of the bottom, yes.>
Any other methods you may have or ideas would be greatly appreciated. Does this seem too risky?
I look forward to your reply.
<Have a look here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/aquascaping.htm Also search the net, there are a lot of very creative live rock designs out there - you would be amazes with what you can do with some imagination, a hammer and chisel, and a drill.>
Sent from my iPhone
<Sent via heliograph >

DIY Live Rock Arch
Avoiding Fallen Arches (Aquascape Construction) 4/14/2009

Hi WWM (Wet Wise Men (and Women)),
<Scott F. your man today!>
Hope all is well with everyone and also hope that Bob is not getting into trouble with giving croc hunters wedgies (I miss the original.) or facing down a frisky red kangaroo on a golf course (Anthony shares a lot:-) ).
<And that's just the "G" rated stuff!>
I am a five year beginner in the hobby and have a 72g bowfront reef tank with 90lbs of LR. I am trying to build an archway out of four small pieces of LR and cannot get anything to bond them together. I have tried All-Glass Aquarium silicone, HoldFast (This didn't stick to anything.) and Superglue.
I was going to try concrete mix but wanted to know what would be safe. Bob had mentioned that Aragocrete by GARF was too toxic and that was what I was going to try to find per suggestions on-line. Other suggestions were QuiKrete, Portland concrete, and Sakrete. What would the crew recommend?
<Well, this geek is a big fan of using cable ties to hold pieces of rock together. You can use a drill with a masonry bit to carefully bore a couple of holes into the rock, then secure your assembly with the cable ties.
You'd be amazed at how well this works, and you won't even notice the ties after some time under water, as they become encrusted with coralline and other life forms. Although there are a number of materials you can try to bond rocks, I've found over the years that the old drill and tie method works great for me....Give it a try!>
Water stats are:
NH3/NH4=0, NO2=0, NO3=20ppm and PH=8.2 using Saltwater Master test kit and Quick Dip test strips.
Tank mates are:
1 3" Imperator Angel
<I hope a much larger home is available for him/her in the future..This fish gets HUGE!>
2 Percula Clownfish (1" and 2")
1 4" Squareback Anthias
1 3" Orange-spotted Goby
5 turbo snails
1 blue hermit
4 Nassarius snails
2 sand dwelling snails (I forgot the name but they are 2" long.)
1 Banded Coral shrimp
1 Tiger Pistol shrimp
1 purple tube Anemone
72g BF with 3.5" to 4" DSB with CaribSea Arag-Alive sand (Wish I would have read about the Southdown sand first. $)
Circulation = Hydor 3 and Hydor 1 Koralia power heads
48" bubble wand
<I love Bubble Wands!>
Mechanical/chemical filtration = Magnum 350 Pro with Fluval activated carbon, Kent nitrogen sponge and bio-wheels.
<Be sure to regularly replace the media in the Magnum for optimum performance>
Bio-filtration = 20g converted wet/dry to sump/refugium with a 7" DSB in a 9.5" x 10.5" area. It contains LR rubble, Chaetomorpha, and seeded copepods with an Aquaclear 10 power head. The skimmer, located on the intake side, is a Turboflotor 1000 Multi. In main tank, here is 65lbs Fiji LR and 25lbs Marshall LR.
Lighting = 2 21" 10,000k 65w compact fluorescents and 2 21" dual blue actinic 65w compact fluorescents
<Sounds good. Glad that you're utilizing some macroalgae in the sump for nutrient control and export.>
I know this is TMI but I would rather have too much than not enough.
<It's great to have the extra information. Helps us zero in on any potential issues.>
I also know that I will be called out on the tank size and wanted to assure you that I am actively looking for a quality used 240g+ tank. If you know of any, I am in the central Florida area. :-) Thank you for your help
and all of the support you give to the aquarist community.
Regards, Ethan
<Don't know of any tanks in your area off hand, but perhaps some of our readers might. Glad that you're looking for a larger aquarium for the future! By the way, if you can, you might want to join Bob, myself, Anthony Calfo, and Eric Borneman at the Orlando Reef Caretakers Association Southeastern Reef conference on July 10 in (of course) Orlando. Should be a great event- hope to see you there! _ Here is the link to the event:
Regards, Scott F.>

Avoiding Fallen Arches (Arch Construction- Pt. II)  4/19/09
Hi Scott.
<Hello again!>
That was a quick reply! The cable ties worked great!!
<Great! Glad to hear it! Those ties work very well and can help you really "defy gravity". >
I had already drilled holes which had acrylic rods in them that I cut myself. They did not have enough flex and some broke. Following your advice, I bound the rocks with the ties and PERFECT!! I went a step further and super glued small pieces of LR to the ties which I had from shaping the rocks. You couldn't tell they were there. It turned out great!! Attached is a picture of the end result. Thanks again for the info and I may see you and the rest of the crew at the conference (My wife said I can go :-)). You guys rock!!
Thanks much, Ethan
<I'm really glad to hear that they worked out..It's a really simple method, and it does take some time to do- but you created a really cool arch! I can attest to the need to take your time on this- I was demonstrating using cable ties at a conference this past weekend, and managed to slap something together, but to do it right, you really need to plan carefully and take some time. And you can get great results; like you did! Looking forward to seeing how your arch "fills in" over time. We'll see you in Orlando in a few months! Regards, Scott F.> 

Cinder blocks in saltwater tank   4/9/09
Hi. I have a question about using some cinder blocks in the saltwater tank I'm setting up. I know that it's generally not recommended to use them in aquariums due to any harmful chemicals, but I have three or four blocks that have been inside my small pond for a year or more with no harmful effects to my goldfish. I've been using them to hold some plant containers, though I have no idea why I thought to use them in the first place when I'm so anal about what goes into my other tanks. Anyway, I was wondering if at this point they'd be safe to use in a saltwater tank. I'm wanting to use them as a foundation for my live rock, since anything buried under the sand will be wasted, both visually and biologically. Thanks for your advice.
<I have seen such blocks in use on several occasions... Again, just a few weeks back visiting Dick Perrin's "Tropicorium", where he employs them to support fiberglass sheets to bring culture trays permanently to the
near-surface, making a space underneath for water movement, placement of actually tons of carbonaceous material. IF your system is large enough, and particularly, as you state, the blocks not new (and likely therefore leached of most alkaline material that is easily soluble), I don't think there will be problems. Bob Fenner>

Live rock question, placement   1/5/09 Hey everyone! <Hello Jason, Minh at your service.> Hope you have all had a great holiday season. I have a question about live rock. I will be upgrading from my 70 gallon tank to a 225 gallon in the near future. <Congratulations on the upgrade.> I currently have about 80 to 90 pounds of live rock in my 70 gallon. I am planning on using this rock eventually, however, I am going to need to keep my 70 gallon running for some time while i put the new system together. I think that this will require me to have new live rock (since I will need close to 250 lbs in total). I think that the aquascaping I am planning will require that the new live rock will end up being out of the water for several hours while the epoxies dry etc. I am wondering if there is an expected consequence from this? I have read "The Reef Aquarium Vol. 3" and they give great tips on the construction, however, I am at a bit confused as to how long live rock can be out of water for. I understand some die off is going to happen. <The length of time it can be out of water and severity of the die-off will vary on the type and density of living organisms on the liverock. For example, if the rock is fresh off an overnight shipment direct from a holding facility the window of opportunity for out-of-water work is less than if the rock comes from a local fish store's curing bin. In either case, you should have enough time for adhesive and epoxies to cure before serious die-off occurs. There are several other things to consider to minimize die-off. For example, use cloth or paper towel soaked in saltwater to cover the sections of rock that do not need to be dry. Ensure you are not working in direct sunlight or in areas of very high or low temperature. Lastly, on a very large tank, like a 225 gallon, spread the work out to several sessions and work on only one section or one pillar at a time.> I do plan on cycling the tank as long as it takes but I don't want to render the rock useless, nor do i want to wait months for it to be seeded. <I've used the techniques mentioned above before when aquascaping large tanks and have had minimal die-off issues.> I also plan on adding some live sand mixed with regular sand after the aquascaping is done. I really want to do an amazing job. Any suggestions? <Here are some links I've referenced in the past that were great help in achieving dramatic aquascapes: Pillar Instructions: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=746318. Foam Faux Wall: http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=447292. Golden Ratio of Aquascaping: http://invincible569.squarespace.com/journal/2007/8/11/the-golden-ratio-of-aquascaping.html.> Thanks so much for your help. Jason <You're welcome. Cheers, Minh Huynh.>

Live Rock on Glass or Substrate 12/21/08 I am in the beginning stages of setting up a new aquarium and have a simple question that I have been unable to find the answer to here. Simply, is it best to put my live rock down directly on the aquarium glass, or should I put substrate down first? And, if you suggest putting substrate down first, should I put down the entire thickness that it is going to be underneath the rock, or just a thinner amount? <Generally it is best to have the rock supported. You can use some smaller pieces of live rock (or even cheapo dry rock) buried in the sand to support the rest of the rock structure. When diggers start to go through your sand it can cause a landslide in your tank. Some even go so far as to create PVC structures hidden in the sand to support the rock.> Thank you for your info. Jeffrey <Welcome, have fun, Scott V.>

Securing Live Rock 2/12/08 Back again, Well, I'm about to refill my tank with saltwater after draining it in order to move it to get to a leak in the sump. I don't have any livestock, just LR and sand, and decided to start gluing the rocks together with Zap Gel. Well, that didn't work at all. I also tried some epoxy that claims to be able to cure underwater. It didn't stick even to my moist rocks, only to me. So I'm about to fill my tank, but my rocks, even after a remodeling to add more stability, are what I interpret as dangerously unstable. Are there any adhesives that YOU personally know to be able to be applied/cured underwater? <The two listed above can and do work, they just take a little technique. With either you will want to gently brush the surfaces you are going to be bonding to remove any debris, algae, etc. With the Cyanoacrylate (Zap) it takes a bit of practice to figure out how much, how fast and how long to hold it while it cures. If you are doing this underwater do be aware that the surface of this glue will skim over when it hits the water. You will need a little glob of the stuff to push into the other piece. GARF.org has a great tutorial page on using this adhesive. With the stick type epoxies you need to really push and form it into the porosities of the rock. These epoxies can be hit and miss on their surface adhesion, but are very strong. By pushing it into any dimples or crevices in the rock you will anchor the two pieces together.> I don't want to have to drain my tank again. I don't need to hear about something you heard of; I need to hear from someone who has used it, for the sake of me and my future critters. Sorry for getting all psycho, but this is REALLY important. <If you really want to spend the time to make sure the rock does not move I suggest mechanically fastening the pieces together. You can drill holes in the rock and either zip tie them together or run acrylic rods down through them to link the pieces.> TIA, Random Aquarist <Welcome, good luck, Scott V.> http://wetwebmedia.com/lrplacingfaq2.htm

Shaky rocks and motivated pistol shrimps! 01/11/2008 Hey crew, specifically Andrew... <<Hello Sean, Andrew here>> I was reading the daily FAQ's this afternoon (normal lunchtime routine!) and came across your conversation with Steve on his Jawfish/Pistol shrimp question. I had been thinking about the exact same thing, because I have had a pistol shrimp for the past year, and made the mistake of putting him into my tank (46g, 40 lbs of LR, 1.5" sandbed, basic setup) without adjusting my rock structure. 15 or 20 adjustments later, I think its probably solid, but he's a tenacious little bugger. <<HA.. yes they are, but are they not wonderful to watch?>> I'm in the process of setting up my new 65g tank with a 20g sump, and I wanted to put a 4" DSB throughout the bottom of the tank (not just outside of the rock structure). One thing I was wondering about was whether you think my rock structure would be solid enough (with the pistol shrimp excavating underneath) if I buried some LR in the sand, level to the top of the 4" sandbed, and then setup the LR on top of those "pillars". I figure my pistol shrimp will be able to move the sand out from between the pillars, but if I use rocks for the base that are stable enough, it shouldn't affect what's above it. You think? <<I would lay some egg crate on the base of the tank, and build the rock structure on top of that, THEN add the sand. Adding rock on top of sand with burrow dwellers or excavators will lead to a collapse eventually. In any given scenario, its never good to build the rock structure on top of sand, always leads to instability>> I want to have a Jawfish as well as the pistol shrimp eventually, which is why this one caught my eye today. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciate. <<Thoughts above. I think it makes for a wonderful viewing experience having two different excavators in the aquarium. Hope the above helps. Thanks for the questions. A Nixon>>

Marine Tank Disaster!...Time For Reading/Proper Protocol…And Maybe, Think Outside The Box - 09/22/07 Hello Crew, Happy Friday! <<Hiya Sebastian…is Saturday now>> Well, not for me. <<Uh-oh!>> I am about to throw the towel and dismantle my operation and call it quits. <<But why my friend?>> Eric, if you happen to get this email please excuse my ineptitude. <<Tis I mate…and please…explain…>> It seems every week I get something taken care of and then something else happens. <<Mmm…perhaps moving too fast?>> The latest disaster happened last week. I decided to add another fish to my fish tank, of course did I quarantine? NO! Did I dip it? NO! <<Ugh…I think I know what's coming>> So I found my purple tang that I have had for over 4 years covered in Ich (C. irritans) and now the wrasse has it and all the fish have it. <<A hard "lesson" indeed>> Well, can't do hyposalinity or copper with all the SPS corals in there. <<Corals or not…is always best to treat "outside" the display>> I set up a 10 gallon tank with water from the main system and added a powerhead. <<Better than nothing…but needs to be larger>> I then had to tear all the rock out to be able to get the fish out and place them in the quarantine tank which is now being treated with Copper-Safe (Mardel Labs). How long do I leave the fish here? <<Usually a minimum of four week's treatment…but do read up here (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/cuduration.htm) and among the associated links. And are you aware some fishes are sensitive to Copper treatment? Tangs in particular as it can destroy their gut-fauna (read here/among the links: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/crypttangs.htm). I have seen Anthony suggest treating Crypt by keeping fishes in a bare-bottom hospital tank and merely siphoning away the larvae from the bottom daily until this protozoan is gone… Perhaps coupled with a pH adjusted freshwater dip…>> Do I need to wait until the Ich dies without a host in main system? <<Indeed…letting the display sit fallow for 6 - 8 weeks is best>> Any more suggestions? <<As stated…along with much reading/keyword searches>> Secondly, after taking the rock apart, I discovered so much detritus in there I was disgusted so it was a great opportunity to do a water change and I did. Well, I tried to place the rock work back in a manner in which more circulation would be possible to avoid this and in the process I managed to knock most of my corals off their rocks!! Some were encrusted, and well, they are no more. <<A deep breath my friend…can all be repaired. Look at this as an opportunity to improve the look of the display. Surely there are aesthetic considerations you wished to change/had done differently from the beginning (if you're anything like the majority of hobbyists [grin])>> Then I could not get the frigging rocks to stay put and I can't seem to be able to stack them all the way to the top, any ideas? Suggestions? <<Yes… Think "out of the box." Strive for a more natural (and eye pleasing, in my opinion) presentation than the typical "rock wall" so prevalent in the hobby. Perhaps a couple "low" mounds of rock surrounded by sand/substrate to emulate a "patch" reef. Such a setting will allow better flow/circulation within the display…will give the corals room to grow and extend…and provides fishes the more natural opportunity to hang-out and swim "above" the reef instead of "in" it. There are other reef niches/biotopic (is this a word?!) replications you can try…unfortunately there is not much hobby literature on the subject (Scotter! Where's that book?!), so investigation re will take a bit of research on your part (coffee table "dive" books are a place to look/get ideas). This is an ideal opportunity, while the display sits fallow>> Does the rock have to be stacked all the way up? <<Nope>> Mid way? <<Not even>> I am very frustrated, I know I should have done a proper quarantine and I was lazy and undisciplined. <<Ah…but what will you take away from this?>> I have managed to glue all the frags back and hope they make it through all this. <<Likely more durable/adaptable than you think>> If you have any suggestions I would be most grateful. <<Please do read "fully" where I have indicated…and consider my suggestion to "stray from the pack" re your aquascaping. Be chatting, Eric Russell>>
Re: Marine Tank Disaster!...Time For Reading/Proper Protocol…And Maybe, Think Outside The Box - 09/25/07>
Hello Eric! <<Hey Sebastian!>> Thanks again for your help and keeping me from having a heart attack. <<Quite welcome...glad to hear you will "live" [grin]>> I followed your advice and aquascaped and I am so happy, I removed several pieces of live rock and placed them in the sump, I made some pillars and caves with lots of space on top and bottom with minimal contact of rock to glass on any side, flow has drastically improved and detritus is getting blown to a corner where it is easily removed. <<Excellent...you will find this is so much better than the ubiquitous "rock wall"...especially once your corals get large/larger>> I lost 2 fish, however, tang, clown and cardinal are doing great. <<Unfortunate...and was avoidable, as you know/learned...don't let the loss be in > Set up a bare-bottom tank with a powerhead some PVC fittings and I vacuum the bottom daily replacing half the water and treating with Copper Safe. I am being careful to replace the dose of Copper Safe that I remove through water changes. There are no more white spots on any of the fish and they seem to be eating. <<Very > I am also lowering salinity with each water change to help with osmotic regulation. <I'm not a fan of hyposalinity, though many hobbyists/retail ventures do use it...is not "natural" to the fishes. I would prefer to see folks use pH adjusted freshwater dips before and after quarantine/treatment and leave the salinity of the treatment/display tanks at NSW levels... My two-cents...>> So I am using a mixture of the advice I read on those links you provided. Hyposalinity, copper, and vacuuming the bare bottom. I am also letting the tank with out any fish for 4 weeks as you recommended. <<As a minimum...six would be > On a different topic, are there flatworms that are partial to certain kinds of Acros? <<Mmm, there is usually much chatter about "Acropora eating flatworms" on the reef forums (Reef Central/Reefs.Org)...a keyword search of our site will yield some references as > I have an Acro that suddenly bleached and upon careful observation I found these brown slippery little worms, they seem to have a couple little antennae on their heads. <<Antennae? Likely not a flatworm...>> I took the coral out and tons of worms came off of it, however, I threw away the frags after dipping in TMPCC just to avoid eggs. This coral was on its own separate rock and it has been removed as well, I have been meticulously observing all other frags and none seem to have worms, did I dodge a bullet? <<Maybe, but hard to say without knowing what the "worms" truly are. Is even possible these organisms are harmless incidental creatures and the bleaching of the frag was related to something else. At any rate, do continue to monitor your remaining livestock and utilize the Tropic Marin dip (seemingly one of the better products for this) if you spy any more signs of infestation and decline>> Am I not seeing well enough? <<...?>> The coral, however did not have any bite marks, just seemed irritated, and none of the others have any marks or signs of anything either. Please let me know what you think. <<Close observation/time will tell... But just like your fishes...quarantine of your corals may have prevented this issue as well>> Thanks again and have a great day! <<Always welcome, Sebastian. EricR>>

LR Placement  - 08/17/07 Hello, <Hi there> I have been reading thru postings on your site for some time. A most valuable resource to say the least. You folks are the best! <Well, okay!> I have been slowly pursuing a reef setup. I have read tons of the postings regarding equipment and issues. My tank has recently cycled. I have completed most of my equipment purchases. I have some damsels in there for now. My equipment so far is as follows. 70 gallon Oceanic tech tank Oceanic Sump 1 Euro Reef RS 100 skimmer Current Outer Orbit T5/HO Pinpoint pH meter (current pH is 7.9) <Mmm, a bit low...> I am trying to adhere to Dr. Shimek' DSB guide. I started the tank with 2 inches of sugar fine sand and after the tank cycled, over the course of about 6 wks have brought the levels up to 5" of sand. I believe I am ready for detritivores now? <Likely so... is there life there to feed them? Oh, I see this is not the case below... I would wait a few to several weeks after having added the LR> My next move was to add live rock. I am seeking advise on building the reef structure. I have read information that states using base rock directly on the bottom glass did I overlook this step?) <You can scoot the sand out of the way...> and other sources have you place the rock direct on the sand. Which technique is most recommended? <Mmm, depends (IMO) on what sort of livestock you intend mostly... If they are burrowers, and there is a great deal of LR, better to place sturdily on the very bottom to start... to prevent toppling...> With fears of disturbing the DSB too much I am not sure if I could go back to the base rock on the bottom glass( or could/should I?) <Again... not a big issue of you don't have large diggers, massive mounds of rock...> Before I proceed further I am seeking some guidance from the standpoint of "have I overlooked anything"? Any advise <advice> would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Josh <Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/lrplacingfaqs.htm and the next Related FAQs file linked above. Bob Fenner>

Rock Placement, Water Flow, And Denitrification - 08/07/07 Dear WWM crew, <<Greetings Hiro>> Thank you for your wonderful advice in the past. <<Most welcome, I'm sure>> As before I am writing because my reading on the matter (at your website and elsewhere) seem to have hit some conflicting advice. <<Much here/elsewhere comes down to a matter of (differing) opinion, agreed>> I suspect it's a matter of context and I am not grasping the subtle differences, but would love your help. <<Mmm maybe, or it may simply be as you have interpreted...one person saying one thing and the other person saying another. But I will do what I can to help...or maybe just cloud the issue a bit more with my own opinion [G]>> Usually, I read that desirable water flow means no dead spots. <<In agreement thus far...>> Better the flow, better oxygenation, etc. This, seems to make sense. <<Indeed>> However, in some posts on WWM I have read that such spots in and around the LR *is* what promotes denitrification, and is the objective of the LR as a part of the biological filtration. <<Hmm... I agree that one function of the live rock is denitrification, but I don't agree on fostering "dead spots" in the water around the rock. Aside from the accumulation of detritus this would promote, it seems logical to me to keep water moving around/in/through the rock for the purpose of denitrification...how else does the water get filtered if it is not made "available" to the rock? I think of it as just putting a bag of carbon in your sump versus placing a bag of carbon in a canister filter...which do you think is the more effective method of filtration? Granted this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. The anaerobes performing the denitrification require very low-oxygen environments which would seem counter-intuitive to inducing high water flow, but the structure of the rock/the fact the anaerobes are deep within the rock provide the necessary environment so I see little benefit to allowing the water to "stagnate" around the rock. And even if for argument's sake we say the "dead spots" around the rock would foster "better" denitrification...I feel good/vigorous water flow "throughout" the system is overall more beneficial than any small "increase" in denitrification processes. The denitrification will still occur...>> Until now, I have been trying very hard to point the powerheads under, into, and behind the piles of LR in my tank, trying to flush out dead spots created within the LR mountain. <<I would continue to do this>> Even then, there are pockets that form, and I can't seem to get rid of them. <<Tis not an easy task. It is impossible to replicate the water flow on the wild reef...the sheer volume/weight of the water movement is staggering>> When cleaning out the tank, I force water through such areas just to stir up the debris and get it into the water column - so that I can get to it when performing water changes. <<This is a good practice...and a good augmentation to providing complete/thorough water movement>> Is this Wrong? <<Not in my opinion>> Should I be piling the LR and leaving the caves, behind the LR (where the LR is piled up against the glass), under the LR, well enough alone? <<Mmm, best not to pile the rock against the glass if possible as this does hinder water movement>> Am I actually hindering the purpose of the LR by trying to have sufficient water flow in and around all my LR? <<Not at all...do please continue to provide vigorous water flow>> I've seen many beautiful Reef tanks, with wall-to-wall LR across the entire back side of the tank. I've wondered how they clean under the rock and between the rock...what people do when things fall down behind a pile of LR (like a Turbo snail - who can't right itself). <<Many such systems I have seen employed some type of "spray bar" behind the rock to promote water flow>> In order to avoid this dilemma, I've piled my rock away from the wall of the tank, and have powerheads forcing the flow around and under my LR... <<I wouldn't change this>> I built my tank with larger chunks of LR just so that I can leave caves and spaces open - I thought that was suggested/implied by the information on aquascaping in your book. <<Indeed...I do think this was/is Bob's intent>> But should I be packing in between spaces with small bits of LR, to get as much density from floor to wall to surface within the water column? <<Not in my opinion. An "open" structure to allow free movement of water/the animals is best>> Thank you for your help in sorting out my confusion! Hiro in NYC <<I do hope this helps. EricR in SC>>
Re: Rock Placement, Water Flow, And Denitrification - 08/08/07
Thank you so much for your clarification! <<Quite welcome...hope it helped>> That makes so much more sense. It's what I thought, and what I'd been practicing... but I started to worry that I was actually making the LR less productive (after reading conflicting info). <<Understandable...but observing the state of your system likely also indicated otherwise>> As you see I've edited my Subject line - for my follow-up question. In the course of reading up on WWM to try to sort through my previous question on the aerobic/anaerobic issues and efficient use of LR, I found that you (i) usually suggest a refugium sump over wet/dry (LR, macro, DSB and lighting); (ii) though acknowledge that FO system users often still prefer wet/dry; and (iii) at least in some of the articles Bob mentions how FO systems often have little or no LR in the display tank. <<I agree on all parts>> I suspect you are seeing what I'm about to ask - hehe - so here is my question from this: If a FO system has little or no LR in the display, would you still recommend a Refugium Sump with LR and macro, over a wet/dry? <<If the vessel is large enough to hold enough rock, etc. to provide sufficient filtration then this would be fine. But more often than not FO systems are heavily stocked, often with messy feeders, and a wet/dry or fluidized-bed filter will usually prove more efficient/be able to adjust more quickly to shifting bio-loads...albeit with a higher residual Nitrate level and little to no capacity to reduce further to free Nitrogen as compared to a "live rock" filtration system, and hence the "thumbs-down" on the use of these units for most reef systems>> Considering the 1-2lbs of LR per gallon objective, <<Is a very "loose" rule-of-thumb...much like watts-per-gallon in my opinion>> isn't it unlikely/unfeasible to have a Refugium with sufficient amount of LR in the Sump alone? Indeed...unless VERY large in relation to the display (equal in size or larger). Though with a vessel outside the display one can "cram" more rock in to the same space without regard to swimming/growing room for the inhabitants of the display>> When you suggest a Refugium Sump with LR, am I correct in understanding that you assume the total LR is 1-1.5x gallon, or is the Refugium still better than a wet/dry, even if you have significantly less LR per gallon than optimal? <<A sump and a refugium (I prefer separate vessels re) are always beneficial but under most circumstances unless the display contains a large amount of rock, FO and even many FOWLR systems will benefit from the addition of ancillary biological filtration in the form of a wet/dry or fluidized-bed filter>> This is important to me, because I want to move some of my LR out of the display tank (for more swimming room). <<Ah yes...it is as important for the long-term health of the fishes to provide a suitable physical environment as it is to provide adequate filtration>> The dilemma, which I am trying to resolve, is should I move it into a refugium and add more LR, or if I can't have enough LR per gallon (the problem is the added water volume of the Sump requiring more LR over all! catch-22?) if I should consider wet/dry. <<Mmm...in my opinion the amount of live rock needed is based on the stocking level of the "display" and not the overall volume of the "system." The more volume the better, for sure. But you needn't think you need to add more rock/bio-filtration just because you have added more water volume...let your stocking density be your guide. But that said...if this is other than a reef system, I think the addition of a fluidized-bed filter is an easy, relatively inexpensive addition that will fill any "gaps" in your bio-filtration>> Thank you so much. Hiro in NYC <<Happy to assist. Eric Russell>>
R2: Rock Placement, Water Flow, And Denitrification - 08/10/07
Thank you Eric! <<You're very welcome, Hiro>> That makes it so clear! <<Ah good>> If I may, one last follow-up (why is that answers just create more questions?) <<An indication of an active mind...>> Your last suggestion was to go for a Fluidized Bed. <<Yes>> Between FB and W/D, I thought most advice on WWM was to go for W/D? <<Apparently my opinion differs [grin]>> Is there a reason you think FB has an edge in this specific situation? <<There is... A fluidized-bed filter is generally less expensive, more compact, and less prone to clogging/channeling versus a wet/dry unit. But you can use whichever you wish as both are very good at quickly converting nitrogenous compounds for FO/FOWLR systems. EricR>> Hiro

Live Rock on Top of a DSB ? - 06/28/07 Hi there guys! <Hi Jason> I've got a 20 gallon fuge for my 70 gallon mixed tank. It's a new setup, only 2 weeks old. I've placed some sugar-fine sand in the fuge. To "seed" the sand, I placed about 15 pounds of live rock (from my last snorkel dive) on top of the 4-5 inch sand. My fuge is very visible, and I like it looking nice. It is actually part of my display, separated by glass with a couple small holes. I've got some questions regarding the setup... is it ok to leave some live rock on top of the DSB? <Yes, Live Rock on the DSB is OK. Just make sure there is plenty of sand dwelling fauna to keep the sands maintained> How much is too much? From what I've read on WWM so far, most people agree that live rock on top of a DSB is a nutrient sink for nitrates and live rock on DSB is a no-no, but I've found some posts stating that this is ok. I hope you guys could clear it up for me. <There are reports that DSB become nutrient sinks. The biggest reason is nutrients aren't being exported via resins or water changes as frequently as needed so over time there is a build up. Using source water that has a zero TDS reading and changing resins and water changes every 30 days helps prevent this. Sand beds also have the ability to create ammonium (another nutrient) so the use of Caulerpa in the sump is recommended. The Caulerpa will assimilate any nutrients that the DSB may be adding to the water. With the use of Caulerpa and activated carbon/phosphate resins together you can control nutrients in the tank quite well> If I need to take out the live rock and place it on my display, will I cause any ammonia/nitrate spikes? Besides taking out the rock very slowly, and having some water at hand, is there anything else I can do to minimize the spiking? <Being that the tank is 2 weeks old you will have a spike as the tank cycles. Water changes should be done at the end of the nitrite cycle. If I have misread your statement and the 70g is established and the sump is a new setup, then you should have little to no spike in the nitrogen cycle because the bacteria in the established aquarium will compensate naturally for that. As far as anything else you could do is concerned, keep up on water changes and exchange all resins every 30 days. Keep your protein skimmer cleaned at least every other week so that it is running at it's best potential. (sooner if necessary) and run your sump lights on a reverse photo period to the main tank.> Thanks, Jason <Rich aka MR. Firemouth> Cure and placement of live rock. Fun With Live Rock... - 06/14/07 Hello and thanks in advance again. <Happy to be of service! Scott F. with you tonight!> I'm in the process of setting up a new saltwater tank and have been reading much of your articles. However, I'm still unsure on a good procedure for the adding of live rock and sand. <Okay..> First, I wanted to cure the rock in the new display tank. I don't mind waiting the few weeks for the cycle process. I bought enough aragonite sand for about 4 inches. Should I cure the rock in the tank on the bare bottom, without the sand, and once the rock cures, add the sand, and reposition the cured rocks on top of the sand bed? <Well, it's your call, really. The optimal procedure would be to cure the live rock in a separate container, such as a plastic garbage can, and then add the cured live rock to your aquarium. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with curing the rock in your display aquarium, as long as you change the water frequently, and provide adequate protein skimming. Of course, under NO CIRCUMSTANCES will you add ANY animals to the aquarium until the rock is fully cured and your ammonia and nitrite levels return to undetectable levels!> Or, should I put the sand in the tank, place the rock on the sand, and let the cycle occur, and just clean the sand as needed during the process? <That's also an acceptable approach, and provides the added benefit of possibly seeding the sand with organisms that emerge from the rock during the process.> Or, should I spend extra and buy "fully cured rock" and place the aragonite sand (around 4-5inches) and rock in the tank together? <Once again, it's your call. Keep in mind that even "fully cured" live rock will incur some die-off during the shipping/transport process, and you should still monitor water chemistry carefully to confirm acceptable environmental parameters before adding any animals.> Also, the tank is 180G (72 inches long and 24 inches wide). If I want to have around 135 lbs of live rock, and 100 lbs of dry base rock, can I cure all the rock at one time, or should I stagger the rock curing into stages? <If it were me, I'd try to add all of the rock at the same time. I like to disturb the "hardscape" of the aquarium as little as possible once it's set up, so I don't care for the piece-by-piece additions of rock, myself. However, as long as the additional rock is fully cured when you add it to an established system, there is little risk, IMO.> Oh, another question about total tank water turnover. Does the total tank water turnover include the filter gph, and the total powerheads gph combined, or is water turnover only filtered water movement, and powerheads only water movement? Any ideas would be appreciated, Thanks, Sol in New York City <Good question, Sol. I am not personally aware of any standardized definition of the term "turnover" in the hobby, although I am known by my friends (you know who you are!) to overlook the obvious now and then! I suspect that if you ask 10 different hobbyists, you'll get 10 different answers! In my opinion, "turnover" is the total volume of water moved through the system by pumps, powerheads, and filters. On the other hand, there are those who define "turnover" as only the volume of water that flows through the system sump in a given hour...It goes on and on! Hope this helps! Regards, Scott F.>

Tremors! Rock placement  - 5/1/07 OK, this is a weird one. I've had this tank set-up for years, without anything like this ever happening, so it's really throwing me. (Tank is 150g, 2.5" live sand, 200+lbs live rock, assortment of fish, shrimp & purple lobsters, serpent stars, hermit crabs, mostly reef-safe stuff but haven't made the jump to corals.)  Anyway, it started a few weeks back, where I wound wake up and find that the fish (perhaps the gobies) would have made a tunnel under some rock, and piled some sand against the front glass. I would level the sand out across the front and move on. Then, the tunneling/piling started getting more extreme. (level out and move on) After a couple weeks of fighting this, this morning I wake up, and there are 3 enormous piles of sand (8"-10" deep at the peaks) across the front of my tank. <Wow!> The rock pile has clearly settled a bit with the undermining, and there is visibly very little sand left under the rock. (Kevin Bacon would know what to do!)  Weird, yes, but my concern is with a rock pile that heavy, that the sand was acting as a cushion between the jagged, heavy rocks, and the possibly breakable glass bottom of the tank. Should I be concerned? <Yes.  This is actually a reason to be concerned.  The rocks need to be sitting on the bottom, with the sand around them, to avoid this very situation.  If they are on a cushion of sand, this undermining can cause a big crash.> Should I keep fighting them and having them retaliate? <Well, I would let them pile, but the remaining cushion under the rocks needs to come out.> Should I remove the excess sand altogether? <I wouldn't, it seems to be providing lots of entertainment for someone. I would just make sure the rocks are planted firmly enough to avoid a rockslide.> Why now? <Hmm.  Has the water flow pattern changed?  I get some pretty big piles from sagging powerheads sometimes.  Any new fish to stir up territoriality or spawning behavior? > Yes, this is a silly one, comparatively, but I'd hate for the bottom to drop out of this tank because of aquatic interior decorating. Thoughts? <Remove as much as possible from under the rocks and assure they are well settled.  Maybe they already settled all they way?  If you think there is still a cushion under the rocks, then they may have to all come out, remove sand, replace rocks, then replace sand to get it more stable. > Your friend in RI, -Pat <Cheers. Alex>

Addendum to Old Query: "Rock Weight and Glass Breakage" - 5/4/07 I was just reading a post "Rock weight and glass breakage" and would like to pass along my solution to this problem. <Okay.> I took some 1/2" thick Styrofoam pieces from a cheap cooler and formed a foundation layer that spanned across the bottom of my tank then built up my formation using all-glass aquarium sealer to bond the whole structure together. <Yes, several different materials can be used to achieve this. Styrofoam as you mentioned, starboard is another one, PVC...eggcrate as well. As an aside I personally do not like the idea of having a large single structure for several reasons which I won't get into right now.> I let it cure for a few days then placed it in the  bottom of the tank  directly on the glass then covered with a few inches of substrate with fish in the tank and no casualties! <But how many extra water changes?> Seems to be working out fine. <Great.> The bouncy of the foam probably lessens the weight of the rock... a little bit. Thanks Bob Bowman <Thanks for sharing. AJ.>

Re-aquascaping my live rock  - 4/28/07 Hello again WWM,     <Joe> Before I upgrade my FOWLR to reef (sometime in the very near future),  I wanted to add more live rock and do a different aquascape. My tank is 36  gallons, 45 pounds of live rock, Bak Pak 2r protein skimmer, and has a clown  goby, (recently had a flame angel but finally found him a better home, a 250  gallon reef tank at my dentist. <Much better> I will see him often since I am always there for  my teeth :P). I was thinking about  making two piles of the rock on the  sides of the tank, to create a rift in the center. Making the rock slant down  towards the center of the tank to reach the open center from the sides.   The only problem is stacking it. The rocks i have now are very large, and would  need to make sure they are sturdy and the glass is safe, so I will probably glue  it if necessary. <Mmm... likely okay to scoot the sand/substrate away, place the larger, flatter pieces on the bottom... work your way up from there> So what rock shape would you recommend to do so? Large round rocks, flat rocks, etc. Just looking for some input or advice. I saw a couple tanks like this before and thought it was very unique. <Really a matter of your aesthetic concern... I would look for inspiration from photos of natural reefs...> thanks again, Joe <Bob Fenner>

Live Rock, Setting up a New Tank   4/1/07 Hi, <Hello, Mich here.> Here is the question, <Here is the answer.  I's are capitalized!!!> I don't think I'm doing things right, I have a 55g tank, that has been running for 3 wks now, it has live sand in it, but the light has been out, I don't have any live rock in it also. <OK.> Can I put the live rock on top of the live sand, <You can, but I wouldn't recommend it.  There will be less possible problems with shifting LR, which could potentially tumble and kill the tank inhabitants if you place the LR directly on the bottom of the tank.  You can just brush the sand away to place your LR.> and can I put more reef sand on top of live sand, <Yes, but it is better to have the live sand on top.> also I read about putting LR in the wet/dry... Do You just put it were the ball are and no sand? <You can.  It is best if the LR is submerged in water.  I would like to recommend two books two you.  The first book I think is essential for anyone entering the hobby and I think belongs on the shelf of every marine aquarist.  It is titled "The Conscientious Marine Aquarist" by Robert M. Fenner.  You may also find the "Reef Invertebrates" by Anthony Calfo and Robert Fenner helpful as it details living filters in the first part of the book.  You can also read more about refugiums here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/refugium.htm and the many related links in blue.  -Mich>

Caution:  Falling Rocks… Possible Damage to Frogspawn (Euphyllia divisa)   3/18/07 Hello, <Greetings!  Mich here.> I have a 24 gal nano and I have had it for three months and every thing has been great but today some of my rock has collapsed and my frogspawn is very mad along with every thing else. <Yikes!  Can't say I blame him for being mad.  Kind of rocked his world...> Will they die <Hopefully not!> or can I rebuild and replace them? <You can make him better than he was before, better, stronger, faster!  OK, maybe not faster...  Rebuild!  Keep your water quality up.  You didn't say much about anything else in the tank, but the frogspawn may product mucus that could be harmful to tank mates.  If possible I would add either carbon or a PolyFilter, both would be better.  More here and the links in blue:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caryophyllids.htm   http://www.wetwebmedia.com/caryoeuph2.htm Good luck!  Mich>

Flipping Live Rock - 01/23/07 Hello All, <<Heya Tiffany!>> Before I get down to business, I just want to give a shout out to Eric Russell, who helped me out recently regarding my lighting. <<"Shout" received...tis I, Eric again!>> I finally opened the box and set it up. <<Neato>> And, it wasn't as "scary" as I thought. <<Mmm, indeed...what shall we try next?>> Now I will just hurry up and wait to see what life may come. <<"Wonders" to come!>> And, I did opt for the topless route. <<Okay...I kept it civil the first few times around...quit torturing me [grin]>> Anyway, I moved one piece of LR just to change the look of the front of my tank.  The piece is Tonga branch...if that matters. <<Generally very good stuff>> I basically turned it upside down. <<Ahh...do be aware that such action destroys any negative-phototropic life growing on the bottom surface>> The "branch" part of it that was nestled into the aragonite, plus an area that just about sat atop the aragonite bed, is mostly white. <<Likely bleached calcareous alga>> It obviously had no real exposure to light.  So, herein lies my reason for contacting you.  I tried to find out what that may be due to by Googling your site.  I think I may know the reason for it, but I just want to make sure it is nothing more. <<Ok>> From what I can tell, the white may be the skeleton of coralline algae that died off as a result of basically no light. <<Or collection/transport stress/trauma...yes>> My question is...is that a correct assumption on my part? <<Sounds good to me>> If that is the case, can I expect growth to ever occur in it's place? <<Indeed you may...in fact in my experience these type sites generally promote rapid colonization by new calcareous alga>> Just to note, I finally replaced my 25 watt strip light that came with my tank to a CORALIFE set-up of one 96 W blue-actinic 03 bulb and one 96 W 10,000K daylight bulb.  Finally...let there be light! <<Hurray!>> Just to note, I have a 46 G bowfront FOWLR set-up for one year.   <<I recall>> Water quality is great.  All of my inhabitants are thriving.  I am just curious/slightly concerned about the whiteness. <<No need to be concerned my friend>> I hope someone is willing to shed a little more light into my situation.  Ha ha. <<I hope I have>> Have a nice day all. <<And to you in kind>> Thank you so much.  For once, I kept it kind of short...at least short by my standards of past emailings to you. Sincerely, Tiffani <<No worries mate, I enjoy the exchange.  Eric Russell>>
Re: Flipping Live Rock - 01/24/07
Good Evening Master Sergeant Eric Sir! <<Hee!  It's been a while since I've been addressed in that manner>> Thank you for the reply. <<Any time>> Tis a pleasure once again. <<For me as well>> I too have tried to be 'civil' as well.  There is sort of a rush you get with the dangers of going topless, isn't there? <<Indeed>> I don't think that is legal here in PA though, well at least in public.  I guess in the confines of my home it is all good.  I am chuckling on this end though.  I feel like a school girl.  I actually giggle when I type the word 'topless' for some reason. <<Brings a grin to my lips as well>> One never knows whose eyes may find this, so I do not mean to be inappropriate or to offend you or anyone else with my childish antics. <<Ha!  No worries on my end Tiffany>> One would never know I am a mother!  Not an old mom...I am a hot mom though...just thought I'd throw that in there.  Okay, now I took it too far.  I guess I will be banned from WWM now. <<Nah>> Seriously...do you think I should put the piece of LR back in its original position? <<If it's where you want it now I would just leave it be.  For future reference when repositioning live rock, it's best to keep the "sunny side up" as the life forms on the top and bottom of the rocks are generally not "interchangeable" re their environmental needs...is this making sense?>> I hope this isn't a lame question, but can that (the white) spread like a bad rash? <<Mmm, not likely/in this instance.  The "white patch" will soon be colonized with new coralline algae if conditions/water chemistry are favorable>> I certainly don't want to aggravate the situation anymore than I have. <<No worries>> I did just flip it on Saturday.  I would hate to ruin another portion of it as well, so I guess if I need to reposition it, I should do it sooner than later??  Let me know your thoughts. <<I would just leave it at this point>> Again, please accept my apologies for my grossly inappropriate dialogue. <<No harm done in my opinion>> I certainly would not be surprised if this did not end up on your site anytime soon. <<Bet it does...>> If I am not black-balled from WWM, I will be sure to seek you out when I take the plunge to the reef side...should I have any questions, and I haven't totally frightened you. <<Please do...and nope, not frightened>> Do you guys and gals have a list of those people whose emails you just hate to answer? <<Hmmm...not that I am aware>> I guess I will be added to number one now. <<Isn't it a good thing to be number one? [grin]>> You have been a huge help Eric.  Thank you so much for your expertise and for being cool (at least I hope you are!).  I guess I will find out.  Good night. Tiffani <<Happy to help out.  Eric Russell (jus' chillin')>> R2: Flipping Live Rock - 01/24/07 Dear Eric, <<Hey Tiffani>> I am still laughing. <<[grin]>> Can we email all the time? <<Fine by me>> Laughing is so therapeutic. <<Agreed>> Just kidding...about the emailing, not the laughing part.  That is true.   I am glad not to have offended you. <<Not in the least>> I was a little concerned about that. <<No need to be>> I will leave the piece of live rock as is and hope for the best. <<Will all be fine I'm sure...the rock will re-colonize from the other/existing rock>> It makes complete sense what you said. <<Can you repeat that...only LOUDER!>> I made a mistake, and guess I should have inquired about moving the piece as I did prior to actually having done it. <<No worries, hobbyists do it all the time.  It is not a "catastrophic event" by any means...just my opinion that live rock should be treated similar to corals re its orientation to light when moving/repositioning...to preserve the life there-on and there-under>> You learn something new everyday. <<I know I do!>> Hopefully someone else may find this posting beneficial in the future. <<Indeed>> I thank you once again for everything. <<Quite welcome>> Until we "meet" again. Take care, Tiffani <<Be chatting, EricR>> Moving LR...   9/16/06 thanks so much for the help. few more quick questions. What can i do with my live rock (or how low can i go on the SG for my live rock to take it.) I have well over 200 pounds and i have no where to put it. I have an old 55 gal that i could put the corals, inverts and the smaller rock that has a lot of purple coralline algae. any ideas on the rest? if nothing else how low could i go in the main tank with my coral, inverts and rock to aid in the fallow process. If it happens that i cant pull the rock and corals will six weeks still be okay with the fish in QT or do i need to go longer? I'm sick of dealing with this and i will do what it takes. Thanks , Blake <<Blake: I would not recommend going below SG 1.019 with inverts or live rock.  You can put the rock with nothing of special value on it into a garbage can with a heater and power head to circulate the water.  The rock will be fine for six weeks.  If you would like to treat in the main tank.  I would put the nice rock with inverts into the 55 and maybe a couple of plastic containers of live sand.  Once you take your main tank down to SG 1.009 it will likely kill all inverts and critters in the live sand in your main tank.  After the six week period, you can put everything back into the main tank and you should be good to go.  While it's a drastic process, it will cure your ich and give you an excuse to rearrange your tank.  Best of luck, Roy>>

Live rock placement  - 09/13/06 Hello again and thanks for your continued help improving marine systems. I have a 75 gallon FOWLR system and have placed about 60 lbs of  live rock down the center of the tank creating numerous caves.  I may have created a few dead spots for water flow and am considering placing the rock against the back wall to open up more free flowing space in the front.  Any issues I should be concerned about using this strategy?  Thanks again. <<Vincent:  Most people believe that placing the rocks against the back wall will create a lot more dead spots than placing the rock in the center.  It also gives the critters more territory to explore and colonize.  Best of luck, Roy>>

Hybrid marine system, set-up   4/6/06 Hi, <Hello> I am setting up a 300 gallon reef tank with 80 gallon mud sump.  The main reef tank will house mainly SPS and live rock roughly 200kg of live rock.  I was also planning to run a deep sand bed in the show tank as I am trying to get the maximum diversity of microfauna to help feed my Anthias and other difficult to keep species. <Can be done, though I am a much bigger fan of having such culture, DSB areas outside main displays (in sumps, refugiums) for ease of manipulation and looks> My plan was to place the live rock on the bare base of the tank and build up 6in of 0.2-0.05mm sand round the rocks.  Does this sound ok? <Sure> Also would it be a bad idea to place some coral on top of the sand bed or would this prevent oxygen transfusion and cause dead spots. <Always a risk, consideration. The placing of anything on a substrate affects, changes the path of water circulation above and (profoundly) below/within the substrate. Good to move periodically... like every month or two> My water flow will be 20x volume of the tank per hour with adequate lighting for the SPS and calcium reactor and Kalk stirrer to maintain calcium levels. thanks James <Sounds/reads thus far. Bob Fenner>

DSB and Live Rock Quandary   4/1/06 What is right? Good evening from NC!  <Good evening to you too!> I have a 55 FOWLR tank that has been up and running for about 2 years.  I currently have about 12 lbs of rock, some coral skeletons, barnacles, shells, and a 3" sand bed.  Water conditions are acceptable:  ammonia - 0, nitrites - 0, nitrates - 15 to 20ppm, PH - 8.0 to 8.2, SG - 1.023-1.026....the latter three vary a little with water changes. The rock I currently have in the tank is partially in the sand, with one piece on top.  I have recently purchased 48 lbs of Fiji Premium rock and have it curing now.  It is currently in a 35 gal covered trash can with a heater, air stone, and a power head...I do not have an extra skimmer...so I hope what I have will work.  I am closely monitoring the ammonia and changing water as needed per what I have read.  <Sounds good.> My question is....after curing, should I move the sand and set the rock on the bottom of the tank, then push the sand around each "base"?  Or set it on top and try to "wiggle" it into the sand?  I only have three fish at this point....2 damsels and 1 blue tang...along with 1 blue leg hermit and several small snails.  I would like to add an anemone and a pair of clowns once I get everything in place and all the water conditions stable.  After reading WWM for hours it seems, I know that the rock will need to stay clear of the back and sides for cleaning purposes.  I am just not certain about the sand placement.  <This is really your preference.  Either way you have to make is stable.  Setting it up with no substrate is one way to do it.  However you can also use a cement designed for SW tanks to stabilize it also.  It's really what is easier for you.  Good luck! > Thanks in advance for your input.  Trust me....it is very much appreciated!!  <No problem, Jen S.> Jeff Adding Live Rock - 03/27/06 Currently I have about 65 Lbs. of LR/ 200 Lbs. (3 1/2" LS)/ lots of inverts/ Clown, Sohal Tang/ Fiji Damsel.  Large wet/dry, good  skimmer, UV.  I recently purchased 45 Lbs. of additional Walt Smith LR.  It is good looking rock, but a few pieces look pretty raw.  I am curing it now; <<A good idea.>> when it is cured and ready to be put in my tank should I put all in at once or is it safer to put a couple of pieces in each week for a couple of weeks? <<This has much to do with the size of the system it is going in to and/or how well the rock is cured.  If you are certain of your curing process then place all the rock at once...else add piecemeal as you describe.  Either way, monitor water quality closely.>> Thanks, Kent <<Regards, EricR>>

Adhesive underwater  02/12/06 Dear All, great website. My tank and new tank would not exist without it. I have spent hour searching online for a suitable and safe adhesive to use gluing rocks onto glass in my tank. For my existing tank I simply used aquarium safe silicone, however the silicone does not hold the rocks together permanently and are starting to fall apart after 4 month underwater. The rock I am using is a man made rock from our local saltwater shop http://www.coralplantations.com/ and I am planning on using this rock as base for my new tank as well. My aim with this approach is to completely hide all electrical wires, pump etc in the corner box as shown on my photo. I went to a boat/marine shop and noticed they had some extremely strong adhesive made by 3M. The product can be used below or above the waterline and is specifically made for the harsh conditions of saltwater, but obviously made for boats etc. http://products3.3m.com/catalog/au/en005/auto_marine/-/node_GSWWSBSW85be/root
_D58K9TX3VWgv /vroot_64GBZCLS10ge/gvel_PJ2QXH1ZGJgl/theme_au_automarine
_3_0/command_AbcPageHandler/output_html Regardless if you agree or not with permanently gluing rocks into the aquarium, I would appreciate your opinion in regards to this product and my intended use, and also of course my main concern, will it be safe (Non toxic) after curing. <I would steer clear of all adhesives that are not specifically indicated as safe for biological applications. Bob Fenner> Polyurethanes are generally safe once cured... If it were me stacking rock I'd just do this without adhesive use.> Thanks in advance for your valuable inputs. Morten Furst

Re: Expensive LR placement - 01/12/2006 Hi Adam, <Hello again Steve.> Thanks for the quick reply, yes I do have a skimmer it is a "Prizm" After many hours of reading your site I will slowly add to the live rock, and try to improve the system in this way. <Some dry "base" rock can be used to supplement if it is significantly less priced, since you already have live rock to seed.> Thanks one again. <No trouble.> Steve <Adam J.>

Live Rock Placement   1/11/06 Hello all, <Hi Joe> Like most questions you see, I'm sure this is already answered somewhere.  But, I cannot find it after much searching. I will be putting 90lbs of live rock in my 75 gallon reef.  I want to maximize water circulation near the sand bed, so I am planning to use as few points of contact as possible.  I'm using large pieces of rock, so ideally my entire rock wall will only touch the sand 5 or 6 times, and each time it touches, it will be with as little surface area as possible. My question is, should I worry about all of this weight on so few points of contact possibly stressing the glass and lead to it shattering? <Unless this rock weighs over 100 lbs, I wouldn't worry too much.> I have a 1" sand bed, and the All-Glass tank sits on the stand it came with, which leaves much of the bottom of the tank unsupported.  The only support for the tank is around the edges and then in the middle there is a support a few inches wide that goes from front to back.  I lifted the tank up there myself, so I will testify to the weight and strength of the tank.  However, I would appreciate your input on this, since I certainly don't want all of my rock, sand, and water to end up on my floor and in the bottom of the stand!  If this would not be a good idea, do you have any suggestions as to how I can get good circulation around the rockwork without sacrificing safety in this system?  I like the look of reefs with minimal rock/sand contact, so hopefully this will work out in my tank! <As far as the circulation goes you could cut up pieces of 1/2 PVC to act as legs and epoxy them to the bottom of the rock using AquaStik or Holdfast. The epoxy cures in the water with no danger to inhabitants. Most online stores carry these products.> Thank you, crew, I appreciate it! <You're welcome.  James (Salty Dog)> Joe S.

Re: Mud/DSB/Refugium  11/16/05 Thanks for the response. Because of the bulk (all LR at once) I don't have and don't really want to buy a whole new setup just to cure it. Though, I've never experienced the smell. Is it likely to cause my wife to move out until it is over? <Heeee! I hope not... might be a good to better idea to "do in batches"... that is, a box at a time, adding another in monthly or so increments... less smelly. Or to opt (call the supplier re) for "better" or so-called "pre-cured" rock (will need to be cured nonetheless... just "on average" less so, smelly> In which case it may behoove me to foot the expense and do it in the garage. <Oh yes... can be done in most any non-reactive containers... e.g. new plastic trash cans...> I am expecting to set up a smaller QT tank in the future for incremental additions, but it certainly will not handle the initial LR load.   A couple of FUP questions, if you don't mind: 1) I've read much about using pipe etc to prop LR off LS. Is this to allow a water space between the bottom of the LR and the substrate, or other? <Mostly this function, yes... also helps stabilize the mass on top, allows for somewhat easier maintenance> If other, is there any reason "dead" coral couldn't be buried in the DSB and used as a support to the LR above? <Mmm, nope... just would miss out on the above benefits> 2) As many have suggested, I have added much of the Aragamax without rinsing first.  <Ughhhh! A mess> The first few times I did this, after some time the water did clear.  Now, however, I have had a perpetual cloudiness for several days. Recommend I just wait, with/without circulation, or buy/borrow a diatom filter, or is there a flocculent that is safe for this purpose? <Borrow/rent the Diatom... the cheapest, fastest fix> Thanks again for your help, and thanks for "Reef Invertebrates". Great book, I am waiting with anticipation for the next. <Unfortunately the series is "dead in the water" for now... Bob Fenner>

Should I use a pvc frame for my live rock?  9/29/05 Hi guys!  Hope all is well with the WWM mob.  Just a couple of questions if you would be so kind....I'm currently putting the finishing touches to a recently cycled 47G and decided to insert a raised platform on which to place my live rock - thus providing extra stability.  This comprises a plastic filter media support (as used by Koi aquarists) standing on 8 PVC pipe inserts (about 1/2" diameter) acting as legs/supports.  My intentions were to place the support - obviously on the glass bottom - so that it is approx. 1 1/2" below the surface of the Aragonite sand and then to 'press' the rock down to meet it.  My first question is thus; could these supports, if closed-off at one end (where attached to the media support) create problematic pockets of anoxic water/sand? < I wouldn't worry about such a small area.  But when in doubt I also wouldn't have them capped off.  For pvc frames I prefer to drill holes in the pipe every few inches. > And if so, would drilling holes in said supports improve the situation much? < Wow, just what I said, yes I'd do that. >  Secondly, IYO would this be a worthwhile venture or would it be better to do away with the whole idea and simply place the rock on the sand without a support. < The goal is to get water flowing around the rocks without trapped areas.  If you have large pieces of live rock then you don't need the frame.  If you have small rocks the frame can be useful to prevent the stacking of lots and lots of rocks. > In other words, is it worthwhile with the trade-offs in mind? < I think frames are worthwhile, they just aren't popular because of looks (difficult to hide). > Much gratitude for the invaluable assistance and knowledge you bring to the hobby, cheers!  Steve Morse. <<  Blundell  >>

"Should I use a pvc frame for my live rock ?" Redux  9/30/05 Prosit Crew ! (the sun just went over the yardarm in the southeast USA) <Tis just arising here in HI> I have a follow up on Blundell's response to Steve Morse's earlier query today...because I am also elevating my live rock above the DSB using pvc pipe legs supporting egg crate right at the top of the sand bed.  Well maybe not at the very top, perhaps 1/4 inch (6mm) covered with sand. My rationale is that burying the bottom five inches of my live rock in my DSB would reduce the usable surface area of the LR by whatever is buried. At the prices I have to pay for the LR I want as many square inches exposed and working its Mojo in the water column as possible. <Heee! Agree with you> Plus, I can use the cable tie trick and secure the LR to the egg crate and prevent any toppling later. <Ah yes, good point> One thing I did decide to incorporate (thanks Blundell and Steve !) is to drill holes in the pvc pipe legs to open their interior (filled with sand) to the rest of the DSB because if the legs were not filled with sand they would be a pipeline carrying tank water down to the bottom of the DSB and that wouldn't be a good thing where I am attempting to create an anoxic layer. <Correct> Once again the WWM crew and another curious aquarist have made the light bulb over my head glow just a little brighter.  Can't tell you all how much I appreciate you ! John (off to drill some pvc now) <Ahh, thank you for sharing. Bob Fenner>

What kind of cable ties?  9/29/05 Hi guys!  A very quick question, and one which I actually feel embarrassed to ask!  Could you please tell me if there is any specific reason why you stipulate 'black' when you talk about cable ties (for securing of rock, use of)?  Is it simply because of the ability for it to 'blend in'? < I think the black ties do not crack and break as fast under the intense lighting.  But more importantly (to me) the black ties promote faster coralline growth and blend in faster than the white ties. > Many thanks again, Steve Morse. <  Blundell  >

Playing With Rocks 8/23/05 Hi all, hope you are well! <Doin' great, thanks! Scott F. here today!> Just a couple of quick questions by way of elaboration of my last. In your opinion, would 4 X 39 watt T5s be sufficient to light a 47 G, 36" wide, 18" deep (surface-to-substrate) reef aquarium housing fish, inverts and soft corals? <In my opinion, this lighting setup would be sufficient for many of the more common soft corals. Granted, this is a bit of a generalization, but most soft corals would categorically do pretty well under such a setup, especially if the tubes are located in a quality reflector. If anemones are in your plan, I'd pass on them with this system.> Secondly, I have a 3" base of aragonite sand placed directly on the glass bottom w/o an UG filter and intend to build an aquascape consisting of 2 'mounds' of live rock (for ease of maintenance) using 2-part epoxy.  Would you recommend I place these directly on the sand or - given the option, as I have - would you place them on a 3-tier reef rack thus elevating them off the substrate? <I have used both the "direct placement (on the bottom) technique and the "support system" (using Chem Grate and/or eggcrate. If you assemble your rock with stability and circulation in mind, either system will work okay, IMO. Sure, elevating detritus allows more circulation and ease of access under the rock (good for maintenance), but it really boils down to aesthetics. If you like a low, tighter-packed rock structure, it may be easier to just arrange the rock right on the bottom of the tank. On the other hand, if you like taller, more dramatic, open structures with "caves", then use a racking system. For that matter, use both and experiment! You can always change things if you don't like the look (like I always seem to be doing!). Study natural reef structures and get your design "cues" from nature...> Apologies if the latter question is too vague or simply a bad question but I really want to get this right. <No, I think I understand what you meant...no problems> As ever your advice is greatly appreciated and an absolute godsend to beginners such as myself. Steve Morse. <We're glad to be here for you, Steve! Good luck with your rockwork! Regards, Scott F.>

PVC LR supports 7/21/05 Hello Crew, <Hi Jen> It is another hot, muggy day here in Pennsylvania.  YUCK!!!!  I'm ready for winter!!!!  :)  Hope everyone is well at WWM!!!! <It's hotter than proverbial blue blazes in San Diego... it's hot baby, it's hot... it's like walking on the sun hot! Am mostly enjoying it> I have been reading a lot about raising live rock off the sand bed by using PVC.  I have a small 40 gallon tank that is not set up yet.  I want to make sure I get this right before possible disaster happens.  I want to make sure that the sand bed gets as much water circulation as possible.  Raising the live rock off of the sandbed only makes sense to me.  Water flows under and through and no waste accumulates. Now with the circulation in mind, if one was to put PVC pillars just below the sand bed for live rock support, wouldn't this cause dead spots in the sand? <Mmm, yep, possibly> I really want to raise the rock but if the PVC will cause more problems in the long run, then I will just put the live rock on top of the bed.  If you can use the PVC with no ill effects, do you need to drill holes in the PVC pillars so critters can get in and out to clean the dead spots?   <You can... or leave off closed fittings...> Please help me, I'm just a little confused with this concept.  All I keep reading is water flow good and dead spots bad because of the types of bacteria.  Please shed some light on this for me with specific directions on how to accomplish this properly.  Thanks and have a great day. Jennifer <Mmm, the western notion... of absolutes... there are very... exceedingly, okay no such instances of such in the real (biological) world... everything is becoming... more... and/or less... Not to worry re the bacteria, sand bed dead spots... with regular maintenance there are few instances of trouble here. Bob Fenner>

Aquascaping / Pump / RO-DI / Rock 7/21/05 Real quick (depending on your perspective), a few unrelated questions (in relation to planning a step-up from a 20 gal. to a 90 gal. w/ sump) - 1.  Is it a bad idea to stack rock directly on the sand bed (obviously, having the typical uncovered bed area in the tank front) in terms of structural integrity (since the bed slowly dissolves, etc.), or would it generally be more advisable to either have the rock  placed on the bottom with sand filled in thereafter around the rock (which I did on my 20 gal., but that seems to require far more rock to obtain nice elevation) or have the rock basically supported independent of the sand via a pvc structure (with the first stackable portion of the pvc support layer being maybe an inch or so under your sand top)? <Best to not set directly on substrates, but either on the bottom or other structure that is stably resting on same> Am I making too much of the dissolution of the sand in relation to the integrity of the overall rock structure? <No, not IMO... have seen some real trouble from the effect of this dissolving... is more of an issue than most all aquarists realize... A bunch of carbonaceous material does go into solution... and differentially... That is to say/warn, that folks ought to add to theirs, perhaps take some out and replace after a year, then every half year or so going forward> 2.  For an external return pump from a sump (let's say, for the sake of argument, an Iwaki or PanWorld), is it ok to have the pump sit parallel to the sump as opposed to perpendicular?  By parallel, I mean the pump is connected to the sump with completely straight plumbing directly into the pump, whereas by perpendicular I mean having a short piece of pipe exit the sump, hit a 45 degree angle and then hit the pump (you probably gathered this without my elaboration on "parallel and perpendicular";)). I would like the to do the later for space saving purposes.  I'm guessing that one turn won't cause much grief in terms of flow to the pump intake, particularly if the sump output is a 1 inch hole graduated down to the pumps intake of 3/4 inch.  Thoughts? <Not a big deal either way... of course, given there is no reduction in fitting, plumbing on the intake side> 3.  In general, and in terms of say "typical" city water (realizing "typical" is a loose, indefinable term), will I gain much benefit from using an RO/DI unit vs. simply an RO unit? <Most source waters, no>   Maybe I'm wrong, but long term it seems as though an RO or RO/DI unit will be more economical than a DI unit alone (such as the Kati/Ani unit (unless you try to reconstitute the filter media, which sounds like a major pain in the rear), a Tap Water Purifier (I've used this on my 20 gallon since the tank requires modest water changes and top-off).   <You are absolutely correct here. Reverse osmosis is the cheapest, easiest means> I think I read in the FAQs by Steve Pro or someone that the small Kati/Ani unit that sells for about $139 can knock out about 200 gallons of purified water (high cost per gallon), and my little Tap Water Purifier can knock out about 30-35 gallons at somewhere around $13 to $15 dollars a filter.  Under those scenarios, and absent trying to renew the media, the little old Tap Water Purifier is more economical than the Kati/Ani unit.  Anyway, I digress.  Do you feel an RO or RO/DI unit will long term be more economical, all things considered, than just using DI units? <RO> How do you feel about the current line of RO/DI units by Kent and SpectraPure? <These are fine... know that they're actually not "made" by these companies...> Lastly, for a 90 gallon tank, what minimum flow rate for such a unit (i.e., RO) would you advise? 30gpd?  60gpd? 90gpd? <Even five, ten gpd will do... given storage of the water... I have a small unit for my pet-fish use> I know that the higher the flow the harder your DI at the end will work as more will make it though the RO, but it seems like a 30 gpd unit will be painfully slow in producing water, particularly if you don't have it plumbed into an auto top off / reservoir fill-up scheme (i.e., just brewing water as you go).  I mean, if a 30gpd unit is really about 24gpd, that's obviously a gallon an hour.  How slow is that?!? <Mmm, not very... really... the oceans were made more slowly...> My little DI unit can spit out up to 10 gallons an hour.... 4.  Lastly, my 20 gal. has some rock in it which has been the subject of a hair algae battle from time to time.  Would it be a mistake to introduce that rock into any part of a new system, even if in the sump or refugium?  Under what circumstances might you make use of this rock, if at all, in a new system?      Thanks for your time. <I wouldn't be dissuaded from using this rock... the "local" conditions... light, predators, competitors, water quality... dictate the life, demise of the algae... Bob Fenner>

PVC Rock Support - 07/19/05 Hello WWM Crew, <<Greetings!>> After delving through your immense amount of info on LR aquascaping I've decided to go with a PVC shelf kind of setup. <Alrighty>> Mainly because I have Caribbean LR that's flat, and getting height is difficult. (Imagine stacking dinner plates...) <<Yes, and keep in mind need for water flow around and through...>> I would regret buying the stuff from LiveAquaria.com except it has the most beautiful coloration.  But, before I run off to Lowe's I had some questions, like if the idea I've concocted will even work. <<Let's find out.>> I plan on laying down a kind of grid base made from 1/2 in. PVC with pipes coming up from the front in a gradual slope up to the back with about 2 1/2 -3 in. intervals in between them. <<You will need something stronger than 1/2"...or many vertical supports...>> I plan on leaving about 2 1/2- 2 3/4 in. between the structure and the glass. ( I tried real hard for the 3 in. rule but with a 30g aquarium its really hard!) <<Yes, but some is better than none.>> I also planned to put a small pump with a split output behind the structure to reduce dead spots. <<Make sure you can still get to it for maintenance once the tank is stocked.>> And (finally) my questions.  My first, would this work? <<Certainly...many will advise raising the rock for the benefit of water flow/detritus removal.  But you also need to keep and "open" stack profile for the same reasons.  Might be difficult with "dinner plates" <G>.>> I have no inhabitants as of yet and I plan on having several LPS's, 2 True Percs, and a Royal Gramma. <<Sounds fine.>>   My next question (need not answer if the answer to the above question is "no")  Should I leave the tops of the pipes open or should I cap them?  I would cover them with the rock but I still don't think that will keep all the critters out. <<Up to you...I wouldn't bother capping.>> And, lastly, Should I put any sand underneath the structure?  I only have a 1/2 in. deep sand bed and utilize an outside plenum so it doesn't really matter to me. But for maintenance will it matter? <<If not utilizing a DSB, I still like a substrate for aesthetics...the 1/2" of sand is shallow enough not to become a problem and is perfect in this case.>> If you can help me with any of that (I'm sure you can as I'm very confident in your abilities) your help would be greatly appreciated. <<I hope I have helped.  Eric R.>> Thanks in advance, Andrew Schreiner

- Livestock and Live Rock Questions - Hi Was hoping you could help me out with some hopefully small questions. I currently have two fish stocked in my 55 gallon tank (FOWLR) - with sump. 1 Harlequin Tusk 1 Bicolor Angel The Harlequin is getting too big for the tank and so I am going to take him out next weekend. I would like to stock the tank with some more fish and the requirements are that they are: 1. Peaceful 2. Somewhat Disease Resistant 3. Small 4. Get along with the bicolor angel 5. Not too expensive Could you recommend any fish that fit the above criteria? <Would suggest you spend some time reading through WetWebMedia as the list of suggestions is long and varied. Livestock is well covered there.> I would like to research them obviously on your site before I go out and purchase anything.. So your recommendations would be of great help. <Do the research first... confirm your suspicions/options second.> I have had bad luck with Clown Fish and Whitespot in the past - are there some which are more resilient to this disease then others? <Good quarantine practice will help you.> I will be getting Chromis's because I have found these easy to look after in the past. If I want to rescape my rock work, what's the best way to do this?  I am planning on doing it the following way: 1. Take 10% of water out of tank into buckets 2. Take all or most of rocks out of tank and put into buckets (with the water in them) so that I can catch the harlequin 3. Trade Harlequin in Store. 4. Reform rock work 5. Add water change 6. Introduce new fish <Sounds fine to me.> My biggest fear is freaking out the bicolor angel.. is it safe to do any of this (particularly step 4) with him still in the tank? <You're going to freak it out anyway... catching the harlequin tusk and all... you could catch the angel first and put it aside in a bucket while you complete the work... wouldn't leave it in there too long, but really, it will be over soon enough and the angel will likely be fine.> I don't think I could catch the harlequin without taking the rocks out. <I doubt it... I have to take out my rock to catch mine.> Your help is appreciated. Regards Simon <Cheers, J -- >

Algae Outbreak Fantastic! I really appreciate all of the sound advice. <Hi Deb, MacL here with you today. Adam must be swamped.> One more question and I'm outta your hair. <No worried Deb, and I apologize for the delay in the response back to you.> I've read your FAQs on live rock placement in the aquarium.  My dilemma is this:  when I pull out the crushed coral to expose the bottom, I'm nervous that the glass on the tank bottom will be damaged by the weight of the rock.  I know that your site has several posting indicating that this shouldn't be a problem, but it still makes me a little nervous. <you aren't the only one, but in all honesty I've never seen it hurt the tank bottom. And that's in more years in this that I admit to.> I'm not at all a fan of using egg crating or plastic dowels to suspend the rock, because it looks a little unnatural. <AHHHH but the great thing about egg crate is that you can cut it to size so you really cannot see it, most of it would be under the rocks.> I thought that a good compromise would be to remove all of the free substrate around the rocks, leaving only the substrate that rests between the rock and the tank bottom (<=1/4"). <Some people do that but you have to keep the sand stirred> I'll secure key pieces with plastic cable ties.  Whaddaya think? <Sounds lovely to me Deb, pictures would be nice. I have to tell you the other thing about egg crate is that it allows current to circle under the live rock.> Thanks! Deb

Joining live rock together Thanks again Blundell, I think I am understanding what I need to do make this new reef tank a reality. << Well that is great to hear. >> One last question before I head off to the books for more research.  I have read that a good way to create caves and over hangs is to get a masonry drill bit and some small (1/4" dia.) PVC and drill holes into the LR and us the PVC as pegs to hold it together. << Yep, but I prefer to drill right through the rock with a 3/8 bit and then use long acrylic rods to hold the rocks together.  Make little rock-ka-bobs. >> This sounds like it would be much more stable than just stacking it, however, you would have to have the pieces out of water to drill the holes where you wanted them.  Is this the best way to do this or is there another way?  << Either way you do have to take the rocks out of water for a short time. >>  If you do drill the LR, would I cure it first, then start to place and drill the LR as I go? << I'd just drill it right away before curing. >> I am guessing that I would not have to drill all pieces but would only drill the foundation pieces and the ones that need extra support.  Also, will drilling these holes possibly cause the LR to weaken, crumble, or adversely affect it in any way? << Yes!  That is a downside.  It will weaken and you break a few rocks as you practice doing this.  I don't think I'd make the peg leg type of structures.  It may work well, but I've never tried it.  I do like making long chains of rock.  Probably best to do this when you first get the rock as you will break some, and after it cures you wouldn't want to take it out of water anyway. >> On a side note, since this will be a new setup, I have the choice of curing the LR in a tub on its own or in the display itself with the sand.  What would your preference be? << I'd cure it in tank.  Always have. >> Thanks again for all your help. Jeff Smith <<  Blundell  >>

Broken Polyphyllia 8/19/04 Aaaaahhh!  I've had a rockslide!  I feel terrible!  I was sure my rocks were stable, but apparently I was wrong! <Happens to the best of us!  Black plastic cable ties, underwater epoxy and plastic rods work wonders to help prevent this.> A fairly large rock that had a Montipora capricornis attached to it fell.  The Monti broke, but only in two large pieces that I reattached.  I'm pretty sure it'll be fine. <Agreed.  These are very hardy animals.  Many of my fragments have been created in such an accident!> My big emergency is that the rock fell right on top of a tongue coral (Polyphyllia sp.).  It snapped in two.   It was about four inches long, but now it's in two pieces that are three and two inches.  (It broke diagonally.) I can't find any information on what to do for this poor little guy. Will both pieces die?  What can I do? <I would give each piece a slightly better than 50/50 chance.  Do be sure that the broken edges stay open to the water and don't get buried in the sand.  I am personally not a fan of dips, etc. unless there is a specific reason.> Thank you so much for your assistance!  Though this is my first catastrophe, I have found your site to be indispensable in researching potential tank  inhabitants. Sincerely, Conni <Glad you have benefited from WWM and the crew.  Good luck!  AdamC.>

LR Placement Hello Gentlemen, I could use a little advice on my next couple of steps.  I purchased 45+ lbs of live rock from Walt Smith/Reefer Madness that has been curing for a couple of weeks now.  The tank has been up and running for almost a year with some fish, inverts and soft corals, all doing pretty well.  A per WWM advice this weekend I removed about 50 lbs of crushed coral and the Undergravel filter plate, and oh what fun that was.   So now I have a clean empty tank excluding the livestock, which all seems to have made it through the ordeal unscathed.  My next step is to add the sand bed and the LR.  This afternoon I purchased the new substrate, I decided to go with the Carib Sea special grade (1-1.7 mm) and I'm planning on making it 4-5 inches deep, no plenum.    I had read an article on the web http://www.harboraquatics.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Store_Code=HA < http://www.harboraquatics.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Store_Code=HA&Scree n=Aquascape> &Screen=Aquascape that recommended first adding some of the sand then placing the base pieces of rock on 3 tubes of 1.5" x 2" PVC. Since I'm going with a DSB I was planning on making the PVC sections 4" long instead of the articles recommended 2" to accommodate the DSB. Should I drill holes in the PVC or just leave them as is. << I like to drill holes, because I don't like stagnant areas in there.  >> Or would you recommend another method to build up the rock, I do have quite a few softball sized pieces of LR that I could use as "legs". << Yes this is what I would do.  I'm not a fan of pvc frames, and I think rock work gives a better look. >>  If I go with this route could you recommend a glue/epoxy to use?  << Yes, I would recommend the reef epoxy sticks you can find at any local store.  But here is a better method; try getting a large (5/8ths) drill bit that is long (18 inches) and drill right through all your live rock.  Then use acrylic rods (5/8ths) and make a live rock shish kabob.  The rods will flex enough to bend your live rock, and this really helps to make arches and caves.  Just make some rock-ka-bobs and then put them in your tank. >> One last thing I'll like to mention, I ordered the LR via Reefer Madness which was recommended by Walt Smith .  When I received the LR it looked like Federal Express had bounced the box a few times during shipment, henceforth all the softball sized pieces of LR.  I contacted Reefer Madness, sent them a picture, and said I was a little disappointed in the condition of the LR I received.  To make a long story short; they're customer service was great.  First they apologized for Fed Ex, and then they asked me what they could do.  The result was they sent me 3 large pieces of LR that I can't wait to add to my display tank.   Kudos to Kristine and Reefer Madness, some of the larger companies could learn quite a bit about customer service from them. << It is always good to share success stories, so others reading this can avoid bad situations.  Thanks >>   Chuck <<  Adam Blundell  >>

 LR Placement Adam, Thanks for your response, the rock shish kabobs sound like a great idea. I do quite a bit of reading and I've never come across this before.  Do you have any recommendations on where I could possibly obtain the acrylic rods (5/8ths diameter).  I'm not sure what their normal use could be and I definitely want something that's inert. << Yes, I buy mine at an acrylic store.  That is where I buy 4x8 sheets of acrylic, or scraps, or whatever I need to whatever tank I am making.  I can't really give you a specific place, unless you live by me.  However, I would think that in the yellow pages you could find something under Plastic Fabrication. >> Chuck <<  Adam Blundell  >>

- Reef Feeding, Decorating and Other Questions - Hi guys (and gals), great site!  Thanks so much for this invaluable resource.  Loved Bob's book, too. <He'll be happy to hear this.> I have set up my first reef tank and included a picture of my tank.  Here's the specs: 55 gal tank (4) 65w retrofit power compact lights (2 blue & 2 white) Appx. 40 lbs. Fiji live rock 60lbs live sand/aragonite mix Remora AquaC pro skimmer (love it!) Penguin 300 filter w/ 2 BioWheels & 2 baskets (one filled with PhosGuard phosphate control pellets because of a weird diatom outbreak and the other filled with bioballs) - would you change what I have these filled with? <I suppose not...> (3) 250gph powerheads Yellow Tang False Percula Clown Blue Damsel Camel Shrimp (I'll get to that) Blood shrimp 5 small snails A few Blue Mushrooms (doing great) Featherduster (doing great) Green Star Polyps (doing great) Heliofungia Plate Coral (doing great) Open Brain Coral (doing great) Finger Leather Coral (doing great) Elegance coral (don't get me started... "easy" coral my ass) From the picture, if I have ID'd any of these corals incorrectly, please let me know. Do I have enough lighting for all of these corals? <Seems that way.> Ok, the picture shows an overview of my tank.  My live rocks seem like they are stacked funny, after looking at pics of many other tanks on the Internet.  I have stacked them in a way that no rocks are touching the glass.  I did this for ease of cleaning the glass, and because I didn't know if it was safe to do so.  (I was afraid of the glass cracking).  The problem is, with all of the space behind the rocks, the fish love to swim back there & don't come out front much.  I would like to move all of my rocks so they are stacked against the back glass to get the fish to swim in the front more. <Then go ahead... no real worry of the rocks breaking the glass unless you throw them against it.> Also, this would give me more "open sand" room for my corals. From reading your site, it looks like the plate, elegance and brain corals should be positioned in the sand away from the rocks and about 10" from each other. My concerns: 1)  Will this disrupt my bio-system, moving all of these rocks around? <Probably not.> 2)  How do you clean the glass if the rocks are against it? <If we're talking about the back wall, many folks just let this go, including me...> Is it Ok to move the rocks a little to clean back there weekly? <Sure.> 3)  How do you position the powerheads to avoid circulation dead-spots in the tank? <Easiest way is to have two pointing at each other - another easy way is to have a lot of them.> 4)  Is the leather coral Ok up on the rocks like I have it? <Yes.> Do you have any suggestions on stacking? <Just keep trying things until you like it - is a very subjective matter, and should please your eye more than anything, but pleasing the fish is also worth shooting for.> Also, any suggestions for more corals or plants to put on the rocks with the lights I have?  I see these pictures of tanks on the internet with rocks just covered with inverts & corals, but don't know what to get. <Buy stuff that will live under your lighting.> Last question:  I read on your site to feed the corals <Did the question get lost there? Some corals do benefit from direct feedings, others are 100% photosynthetic. If you're not sure which is which, I highly suggest you spend the money on Eric Borneman's book, Aquarium Corals. A great book for identification and specific husbandry needs of captive corals.> Now a couple of misc. questions.  I bought the camel shrimp on a whim at a LFS thinking it was in the cleaner shrimp family.  Now I know it feeds on coral polyps.  It doesn't bother my corals yet, but I don't want to take that chance.  How in the world do I catch it? <Try teaching it to hand feed - most shrimp can't see real well and will initially react to the presence of your hand, but given a little bit of time, they will get bolder and take the offering. Then, just scoop them out with a net in your other hand.> I have tried everything.  I read somewhere to wait until it hides in a rock, remove the rock & place it in a bowl of high salinity water until it comes out. <Sounds like what people do with mantis shrimp.> I fear this will be cruel to the shrimp and don't want to take this course if this is true. I was wondering exactly what to feed my corals. <Depends on the coral.> I read on your site to feed them with a baster "finely minced meaty foods".  What exactly does this mean? <A milieu of seafoods - mysis, clams, squid, shrimp - all blended down to a small particle size.> I give them all (except the leather) brine shrimp a couple times a week, which they seem to love. <I suppose it's better than nothing, but not by much. Do consider expanding your feeding horizons.> I feed the open brain at night, which is also when the blood shrimp likes to eat.  Is this enough? <Brine shrimp are barely nutritional - more like water shaped to look like an animal. Better to try the other foods I listed.> Sorry for the long email, thanks again for the advice ahead of time.  If there is ever a need for monetary donations to your site, where could I go to get info? <At the moment, I'd rather see you go out and buy that book.> Would love to help out if I could.  -  Rick <Cheers, J -- >

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