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Old 09-21-2007, 10:16 PM   #1
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Base rock vs. live rock

I'm getting ready to setup my first SW tank. I just bought 120lbs of sand and now need to get some rocks. My plan was to buy some base rock (ebay has it for $85 for 70lbs) and about 30-40lbs. of live rock. I have read some posts where others mention doing this.

Now, the guy at my lfs said that base rock would never become live, and that it was really used for FO tanks. The place I'm looking at getting the base rock from mention that if seeded and placed near live rock, then it will become live. Is this true? Has anyone had base rock become "live" and how long did it take? Just trying to save some money. I knew this was an expensive hobby, but $200 for sand (wow).

Thanks for any input. I would like to start cycling this weekend if I can get the rock in time.
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Old 09-21-2007, 10:34 PM   #2
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Yes, over time the base rock will become live rock. The lfs guy is either misinformed or is just trying to get you to buy lots of lr. I had about 25lbs of base rock and 35lbs of lr when I setup my 20 gallon reef. After about 6 months you should see coraline algae growing on it and other organisms growing on it.

The same thing goes with ls. You can get all dry aragonite sand and then seed it with a couple cups of sand from an established tank. Much cheaper.
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Old 09-21-2007, 10:49 PM   #3
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Now, the guy at my lfs said that base rock would never become live, and that it was really used for FO tanks.
Time to find a new LFS...
Your base rock will certainly become LR over time. Mixing ration of base to live rock is a great way to save some money in the begining and still eventually end up with a ton of biological filtration. Obviously, the more LR you start with the better. I think a 50/50 mix is good.
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:03 PM   #4
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I agree with the others. The definition of live is two things. 1) The nitrifying bacteria that helps run the cycle will colonize on your base rock also. This is very important. 2) LR has many critters in it and over time they will move around and find homes in the base rock over time. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but your LFS is trying to make some money off you.
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:18 PM   #5
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Thank you all. That is what I thought would happen. Now that I know this guy is trying to make money off of me, I'll go elsewhere.

He also sold me on buying a 20lb bag of live aragonite. Should I return this is just buy a couple of cups of the live sand? Do lfs sell this little amount, if so how much? The bag cost me $40.

BTW after washing all my sand. He said to put the ls on last. Do I mix this in or just leave it on top?
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:30 PM   #6
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Them bags of LS are not really live IMO. If there is any beneficial bacteria it is not much. Best thing to do is just buy dry sand and get a few cups of LS from a LFS tank and add it to the other sand. It will become Live over time.
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Old 09-21-2007, 11:41 PM   #7
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My guess is that the LFS that sold you the "live" sand probably won't sell you any sand from their tank! Agree with all the rest - "live" rock really has two definitions - "live" with bacteria, and "live" with critters. Either way, with a mix of "live" and base, it'll ALL be live (either definition) within 6 months.

I wouldn't totally discount your LFS just over this one incident. You could've just gotten a misinformed employee telling you something they'd heard. Now... if it was the owner telling you this... that's a different story!
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Old 09-22-2007, 01:25 AM   #8
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A little info that might help would be to check out some online supply stores such as Drfostersmith.com. There are a few others as well. The online stores pricing is usually well below what you are going to pay at lfs and shipping and handling seems to be quite reasonable. Just in sand alone I am sure you could save a small fortune just by simply buying online. Liveaquaria.com has pretty reasonable prices on what I would consider top quality live rock. You can get it for under 4 dollars a pound even after you factor in shipping costs which are relatively high on liverock, livesand, and livestock.

Hope this helps
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Old 09-22-2007, 12:00 PM   #9
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Do you have any friends or family with a fish tank? If so, you could get some from them. If you live in Florida you can get some from me. Mine is full of beneficial pods, ministars and worms. It is all aragonite. I did not buy any "live" sand. I also bought some dry base rock to add into my live rock (I have half and half) and it became live in no time. When I upgrade I am buying no live rock, only dry base rock. It also has the benifit of not introducing unwanted creatures into your tank like mantis shrimp. You'll want some live rock to start out with though. And IMO it is far better to buy that rock from a aquarist getting rid of their tank. You will probabally find that all unwanted creatures have been removed. If you keep it wet, and it is not far from your house you can add right into your tank no problem.
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Old 09-24-2007, 11:35 AM   #10
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I agree with the rest on both questions. I bought 150Lbs of base rock for my 125 and love it. I bought 270Lbs of sand from the drs website a few buckets of salt, shipping was $15.99.
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