Live rocks are widely used in various marine aquarium setups out there. But what are they and why are they so important for this type of environment? Today, we are going to discuss a little more about the use of this interesting decoration that will bring a lot of life to your aquarium.
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What is live rock used in marine aquarium?
Technically speaking, live rock is nothing more than any porous rock colonized with life after exposure to biologically rich environments. A biologically rich environment is usually a natural reef, and the rock itself is debris from storm damage to a living reef, for example. Therefore, in aquaculture, a “dead” rock will be introduced into a mature aquarium and will become “live” over time as it will be colonized by bacteria and other organisms.
Living rock is full of life and therefore must be treated as a living thing when transported. This means that after you buy it at a store, you should be careful to keep it wet (wet newspaper over it in a tightly closed styrofoam box for short trips).
The importance of “cured” live rock
Even in the best transport conditions, part of the flora and fauna that grows on the rock will be damaged and will eventually die. This is why living rock needs to be “healed”. If the aquarist has purchased so-called “cured” live rock, the curing period in the aquarium will be much shorter than if he purchased an “uncured” one.
The process of curing a living rock simply refers to the death of organisms damaged during transport and the resulting chemical by-product of that death – the famous ammonia. During the curing process, no other organisms should be added to the aquarium, as the toxic levels of ammonia will likely kill anything except the fish or invertebrate more resistent.
Once the curing of the live rock has been carried out (identified by testing in the water), and the desired landscaping is complete, the aquarist should do his best not to disturb the rock. It is essential to allow the outer surface of it to be fully colonized by denitrifying bacteria. Live rocks, if used in large quantities, will serve as an excellent biological filter when colonized.
Why should I use live rock in my marine aquarium?
Below, check out some of the top reasons why you should use live rock in your marine aquarium:
1. Live rocks serve as a home for countless species
The use of live rock is visually appealing and conducive to the habitat requirements of most marine organisms. It’s easy to recreate a piece of a natural reef in a home aquarium using them.
The interesting shapes of live rock provide countless opportunities to build caves, arches, or whatever reef topography you have in mind. Also, once you have created the perfect setting – you will be able to observe different species of fish and invertebrates taking over every corner of them.
2. They serve as biological media
In terms of biological filtration – one of three types of filtration that most marine systems rely on – live rock is an excellent choice if used in sufficient quantities (1 or 2 kilos for 3 liters of water).
In short, live rock is very porous, resulting in a lot of surface area. This area colonized by denitrifying bacterial fauna is largely responsible for the effective decomposition of organic waste in the system. However, it should be noted that live rock, when compared to other biological media, is the least efficient given its weight/surface area ratio. However, other attributes of live rocks, combined with their usefulness as a biomedia, make their inefficiency negligible compared to their benefits.
3. Live rocks contribute to biological diversity
There are so many times when setting up a marine aquarium we have to wait days, weeks or even months before adding any species. Studying the remarkable biological diversity that comes for free in live rocks makes this waiting period much more interesting.
Grab a magnifying glass and sit by the aquarium. You will be amazed at the diversity of species that “come to life”. From sponges and worms to various molluscs and echinoderms (snakes and starfish), the organisms that give the live rock its name will no doubt surprise you, and their diversity will contribute greatly to the overall stability of the system.
Live rocks are very important to marine systems. Acquiring a handful of them will give you a system of filtering additional to what you will already use. In addition, they are rich in life and their inhabitants will serve as food for countless marine species that you will acquire in the future.
Finally, if you are going to buy live rocks, you can buy a mix of “lifeless” base rocks (at a lower price), and some live rocks that are already quite alive. In time, everything will come alive in one way or another. Nature always finds the way, go for me!