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Old 11-30-2009, 04:43 AM   #1
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The need for Live Rock in a reef AQ.

I have a few questions for the group.
1) Is Live Rock really necessary in a reef Aquarium?
2) Can we get away from liverock and if so what should be used instead?
3) Are there other means of getting a cycled reef tank without LR and
still have the amount of good bacteria needed?
4) With the amount of coral I see in most reef tanks, would the plugs be enough area for bacteria to benifet the tank?
5) Is 1.5 lbs of LR per gallon as outdated as a rule as 3-4 watts per gallon lights are?
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:49 AM   #2
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1- no
2- yes, bio balls
3- fresh shrimp and bio balls
4- no
5- not really. You need some type of biological filtration whether it be lr or bioballs or media in a HOB filter or in a canister filter.
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:55 AM   #3
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I guess it all depends on what you're looking for ... or not looking for. The bacteria to sustain the tank with fish and inverts is likely needed on some kind of substance. Without LR, that leaves you with sand, sponges, bioballs, or other synthetic bio mass IMO. That leaves my mind with more problems hiding all that stuff so it doesn't take away from your main display. So you'd have to have a large sump or wet/dry to hide it all.

As far as enuf bacteria living on plugs... that seems to require more "shelving" in the tank to place the plugs on. That picture doesn't look as good either to me.

Now, if you're NOT looking for aesthetics, and just want a tank that "functions", I'd guess any combination of shelving and plugs, or bio-media won't be a problem for you.

It's just that in my mind, it ain't natural so I'm biased there anyway. Aside from my personal bias, the plugs and (likely) light grid constructed shelvng that holds the plugs don't seem to be enuf surface area for the bacteria to establish in enuf of a quantitiy to provide any real reef tank support in my mind.

Maybe I haven't given much real scientific proof to support my answer, but I'm sticking with it.
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Old 11-30-2009, 03:39 PM   #4
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Thanks for the answers so far. See what happens to the mind on a slow Sunday.
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Old 11-30-2009, 06:06 PM   #5
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1) You dont have to have it but if you want good biological filtration and good hiding and grazing places in your tank for your livestock then you`ll want to have it. It is also good for placing your corals on. There are many reasons for having LR. It also provides a natural reef look.
2)There is DIY and BR. As mentioned above there are some places that sell aquacultured rock. Tampabaysaltwater.com is one of them.
3) Bioballs, Wet dry system and canisters.
4)I doubt it
5)Yes that formula is outdated IMO. There are many types of rock out there. There is light rock out there and heavy rock out there. The key is to get good pourus rock that has more surface area and can house more beneficial nitrifying bacteria. if you have 1.5 lbs per gallon of tonga rock you`ll have more LR then if you had 1.5 lbs per gallon of Fiji LR. I would rather have the fiji LR as it`s more pourus and has more surface area.

Some good links

Live Rock As A Biological Filter: Hit or Myth? by Ronald L. Shimek, Ph.D.. - Reefkeeping.com

Live Rock

FAQ's Regarding Live Rock
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