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View Full Version : Real Vs. Fake Live Rock


chrismhaase
03/06/2007, 07:27 PM
If I make my own fake live rock, what mixture is a suggested combination?
-75% fake, 25% real
-66% fake, 33%real
-50% fake, 50% real

What does everyone suggest, provided you are using live sand?

Thanks, Chris

T Man
03/07/2007, 01:52 AM
Fully "cured" rock or homade LR are both capable of filtration in captive reef systems providing that it's fully cured. The homade rock that you want to use needs to be "cured" completely before you use it in your tank.
The homade rock will leach undesirable toxins into your system that will ultimately have a negative effect on the inhabitants if it is not fully cured. I've got a "fake" pillar that I have been curing since November of last year- I still don' have the confidence to put it in any type of display with any livestock, it's takes a gooooood while for "fake" rock to cure. Good luck! TinMan

taketz
03/07/2007, 04:44 AM
I don't know if I would trust 100% of my tanks bacterial filtration on homemade rocks if I were you. A significant percentage, sure, but I just don't know enough of the chemical intricacies to trust concrete for the entirity of my biological filtration. I would be more inclined to purchase non-live base rock for $1-$2 per pound. Of course I would make sure that the rock I am getting is in fact old reef and not granite, but thats the route I would go.

As far as fake rock, LU359 is about right on. It takes a long time to completely ready fake rock for your aquarium and IMO, is probably better suited for making small amounts rocks in specific and unique shapes to aquascape with.

barbra
03/08/2007, 02:39 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9415139#post9415139 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by taketz
I don't know if I would trust 100% of my tanks bacterial filtration on homemade rocks if I were you. A significant percentage, sure, but I just don't know enough of the chemical intricacies to trust concrete for the entirity of my biological filtration.

Since the concrete does not provide any filtration it is irrelevant as long as it is cured. The bacteria that colonizes the surface is what does the work.

The larger the surface area the more processing power (live stuff) it can hold. Some people's concrete rock is pretty heavy chunks and not full of holes and pores so it will never be able to hold the bacterial load that a very porous natural rock will. Plenty of people use all man-made rock in their tanks and they do great, just take a look at GARF.org for examples of tanks with all man-made rocks. There is no set percentage for real vs. fake rock that I have ever heard of.

taketz
03/09/2007, 01:29 AM
Since the concrete does not provide any filtration it is irrelevant as long as it is cured. The bacteria that colonizes the surface is what does the work.

I am fully aware that concrete itself is not a source of BIOLOGICAL filtration. What I was saying is that I don't know if I would trust concrete as the main source of bacteria colonization...

It just doesn't seem as natural and as efficient of a surface for that sort of bacteria to colonize as live or even natural dead reef rock.

The larger the surface area the more processing power (live stuff) it can hold. Some people's concrete rock is pretty heavy chunks and not full of holes and pores so it will never be able to hold the bacterial load that a very porous natural rock will. Plenty of people use all man-made rock in their tanks and they do great, just take a look at GARF.org for examples of tanks with all man-made rocks. There is no set percentage for real vs. fake rock that I have ever heard of.

There are many things that members of garf do and do successfully. Its just something I don't know if I would depend on myself...

GARFVolunteer
03/09/2007, 09:41 AM
I have made quite a bit of man made rock. I use crushed coral, CaribSea Seaflor Special grade, and Riverside White cement manufactured by TXI which is a low alkali cement. The rock is covered with water and cured for 28 days.

There are a lot of ways I have found to make the rock. I prefer 4 parts CC, 1 part Sea Flor, and 1 part cement. This makes a strong rock that is very porous so there is a lot of surface area in the rock for bacteria to colonize.

Some use a lot of fine sand in their mix but they end up with good looking solid rock that bacteria only forms on the surface.

There is a pretty good way to determine if your rock is porous. Fill a container of the cement mix, cool whip tubs work well. Let the mix cure over night. Start adding water until it is level with the top of the mix. Pour the water into a container and record it. I have found if I use any sugar side sand the rock looks good but is also so solid that water can not penetrate(will hold very little water). This method will only give you an idea of how porous the rock is and is no where near a perfect method.

Another test would be to make bowls and pour water into the cured bowls. If the bowl leaks badly it is porous. If holds water, it is usually not as porous.

I rely on live sand, not the rock, for filtration. The porous man made rock may eventually become as effective as natural live rock but it would take quite a long time.

Thanks,

Scott

chillaxe123
03/10/2007, 12:40 PM
you can use rock salt in the mixture to make it more porous

chrismhaase
03/10/2007, 08:44 PM
Scott, do you have a step by step directions what I might be able to use, or is what you wrote basically it? Or do I need additional items, considerations, and so on?

chrismhaase
03/10/2007, 08:46 PM
chill axe, how much rock salt? and when do you add it? do you make the rock with it already mixed in? Or do you cover the rock with it after you form it and it is drying?

GARFVolunteer
03/10/2007, 10:20 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9446731#post9446731 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by chrismhaase
Scott, do you have a step by step directions what I might be able to use, or is what you wrote basically it? Or do I need additional items, considerations, and so on?

About the only thing I can think of adding off the top of my head is:

Add the water to the mix slowly. When you can make a ball in your hands and it stays a ball, the "slump" is about right.

I use CC for the forms. if you get the CC damp it is easier to form the molds.

Other than that, just experiment. I have yet to make a rock that looks like I intended...

Thanks,

Scott,

chrismhaase
03/11/2007, 08:50 AM
Scott, thank you for all your input, it is really appreciated.

chrismhaase
03/11/2007, 09:40 PM
I just got the approval from my fiance to start the new tank. Now comes the fun part of picking out a system!!

chrismhaase
03/11/2007, 10:02 PM
Here is my wishlist thread. your comments and suggestions are welcomed here http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=1069339

barbra
03/12/2007, 11:42 AM
Look at the "Ultimate DIY Rocks" here on ReefCentral:

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=952524

chrismhaase
03/12/2007, 12:06 PM
Someone PM'ed me that link. There are some really good trials on there and good hints.

GARFVolunteer
03/12/2007, 12:23 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9456892#post9456892 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by barbra
Look at the "Ultimate DIY Rocks" here on ReefCentral:

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=952524

Here is the very start of the thread: http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=807988&perpage=25&pagenumber=1

I have not figured out why the thread is called the "Ultimate DIY Rocks". IMO the very first batch would have been the best of three as far as eventually becoming live rock. The main downside I see with it is the use of oyster shells which I would not use.

The second batch would not be as good due to the sand. All that sand will fill in the space between the oyster shell providing very little contact area for bacteria to colonize.

The third batch, "Ultimate DIY Rocks", would not be even close to ultimate. It would have the least amount of contact area. Sure it looks cool but IMO it is the worst of the bunch.

Thanks,

Scott

Travis L. Stevens
03/12/2007, 01:31 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9457214#post9457214 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by GARFVolunteer
Here is the very start of the thread: http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=807988&perpage=25&pagenumber=1

I have not figured out why the thread is called the "Ultimate DIY Rocks". IMO the very first batch would have been the best of three as far as eventually becoming live rock. The main downside I see with it is the use of oyster shells which I would not use.

The second batch would not be as good due to the sand. All that sand will fill in the space between the oyster shell providing very little contact area for bacteria to colonize.

The third batch, "Ultimate DIY Rocks", would not be even close to ultimate. It would have the least amount of contact area. Sure it looks cool but IMO it is the worst of the bunch.

Thanks,

Scott

Hiya, Scott. You're correct that the first batch wasn't as dense as the second batch with the sand. But the noodle experiment really screwed it up. The sand/cement style mixture of the second batch was a little more dense but held up better on it's own. The "ultimate" DIY rocks is by far the better choice for my applications at home. It might not be for everyone. The first and second batches weren't for me, so that is why I created the "ultimate" ones. It is very light weight and extremely porous while still being able to be strong enough to withstand a fairly large amount of weight. It might not be able to hold a car up like the first and second batches, but I, a 250 lb man, can stand on a rock and bounce on it without breaking it. Granted, it's porousness will cause a little to flake off the outside from doing that, but it doesn't break or crumble apart. On the other hand, the actual biological filtration seems to be extremely better. While I have no technical equipment to measure this, a lab with constants and variants, and microscopes to see the bacteria levels, all the tanks that have had the "ultimate" rocks tend to do better than ones without. As an additional note, the porousness of the rock will sometimes cause dry rocks to float because there is enough air in these tiny holes to keep it boyant. In a short amount of time though, the air gets pushed out and it sinks. I'm trying to find the time to do some simple tests to compare the rock's density, weights, and displacements of real live rock, old recipe rocks, and new recipe rocks.

chrismhaase
03/12/2007, 02:07 PM
When you are making and judging the efficency of rock, isn't surface area what matters the most?!?! The more surface area, the more beneficial life, right? So if there were many little holes, divots, etc. they would be better than really dense and flat rock. Thats what I would have to assume. What do you guys think?

Travis L. Stevens
03/12/2007, 02:16 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9458013#post9458013 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by chrismhaase
When you are making and judging the efficency of rock, isn't surface area what matters the most?!?! The more surface area, the more beneficial life, right? So if there were many little holes, divots, etc. they would be better than really dense and flat rock. Thats what I would have to assume. What do you guys think?

Agreed. This is the thought process of my rocks. There are two things that you have to give an organism in order for it to grow; food and shelter. Or at least that is what I remember from Biology class. Our tanks provide plenty of food for the bacteria, but some DIY Rock lacks shelter. I tried to find a way to create rocks with high porosity, light weight, and cheap. Thus, I have my Salt:Cement ratio. I'm not saying that a Crushed Coral based DIY Rock can't be porous, but it takes a lot of effort and experience. If it's too wet, it will collapse the pores, If there isn't enough cement, it will collapse. It is also VERY rough on the fingers. I've had many nasty cuts from those rocks. After you've had your hands in water for an hour, and they're nice and pruned up and soft, the last thing you want to do is grab a rock with sharp coral and shell pieces sticking out.

But I digress. It's getting a little off from your original post. The question was what ratio. FWIW, I believe that your first ratio or less rock is sufficient enough. It just depends at what speed you want your base rock to become populated with little critters and bacteria. If you're impatient with some extra money, more live rock won't hurt. On the other hand, if you're like me and strapped for cash but have all the time in the world, it would only take one piece of live rock to give you all that you need.

GARFVolunteer
03/12/2007, 02:21 PM
Travis,

You got me to thinking... I do like the looks of your rock and will see if my lovely and gracious bride of 23 years, 2 months and 12 days will let me make some and try it. I just need to con her out of $26 for the salt and cement. I really like the Riverside White cement because after 28 days, it is ready to go into the tank without pH problems.

The majority of my rock is man-made and I want some more for a structure in the back corner. I do like the idea of the rock being light. The reason there is no rock back there now is that I am afraid I will drop a rock or topple the whole stack. The tank is 31-1/2 deep and there is no easy way for me to reach back there.

If the mix is like play dough I could whip out a bunch of frag plugs by rolling them into a ball and put them in the egg cartons that I have until they have set up well. Making plugs is always a pain with crushed coral...

Thanks,

Scott

Travis L. Stevens
03/12/2007, 02:36 PM
Let me start out by saying thank you for taking my reply in context. It could have easily been read as a bashing since your company makes profit from their efforts. Like I mentioned before, each recipe has it's specific time and place, and an experienced hand is needed to make any recipe worth while. :)

<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9458136#post9458136 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by GARFVolunteer
You got me to thinking... I do like the looks of your rock and will see if my lovely and gracious bride of 23 years, 2 months and 12 days will let me make some and try it. I just need to con her out of $26 for the salt and cement. I really like the Riverside White cement because after 28 days, it is ready to go into the tank without pH problems.

It would be well worth giving it a try. Especially with your cement. I believe they call that Type III around my area, but I'm not sure. Type I is tried and true, cheap, easy to find, and I have all the time in the world to wait for the pH to level out.

The majority of my rock is man-made and I want some more for a structure in the back corner. I do like the idea of the rock being light. The reason there is no rock back there now is that I am afraid I will drop a rock or topple the whole stack. The tank is 31-1/2 deep and there is no easy way for me to reach back there.

I completely understand your problem. I do maintenance on a 300g tank that is 30" deep with a HUGE acrylic bracing that makes it difficult to even get an arm in the tank. It is a work in progress. Eight years of neglect, and one year of restoration, and this is what we have accomplished. FWIW, I plan on adding more rock in the future.

Picture before work on tank began. About 50% of the rock in there is plastic decorations from a freshwater tank. Remember.... 8 YEARS of neglect. Not even a water change.
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/39/100078451_f7718da5ab.jpg

About a year later. About 75% DIY rock. Most of which you can't see.
http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a184/TravisStevens/Aquariums/Saltwater/Kyoto%20Tank/KyotoFront.jpg
http://i11.photobucket.com/albums/a184/TravisStevens/Aquariums/Saltwater/Kyoto%20Tank/KyotoSide.jpg

If the mix is like play dough I could whip out a bunch of frag plugs by rolling them into a ball and put them in the egg cartons that I have until they have set up well. Making plugs is always a pain with crushed coral...


The mix is actually about the same consistency as Crushed Coral mixes. You have to mix it quickly without rough housing it too much. This way you get little dissolving of the salt. FWIW, I have tried making frag plugs and such with this mixture. It is very difficuly, and the end product isn't bad looking. Personally, I prefer just sand and cement for my frag mounts. Easy to pour, wasy to mold, dries solid.

Travis L. Stevens
03/12/2007, 02:38 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9457214#post9457214 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by GARFVolunteer
I have not figured out why the thread is called the "Ultimate DIY Rocks".

And just for clarification, I just used the name to make it stand out and make it different than all the other "DIY Rock" threads out there. It's hard to keep track of which thread has which recipe. I'm not boasting that it truly is the "Ultimate" rock, but I'm quite partial/biased none the less ;)

chrismhaase
03/12/2007, 03:01 PM
Travis and garf, check out this link. It sheads another idea of plaing frags around the tank. www.reefvideos.com and look for the "moounting/pegging" video, which is in the 4th row, 1st on the left. It has a great idea, pre drilling holes, and then pegging frag mounts. You guys might like this video, or atleast I hope you did. It made me think about the way I am going to make my fake rock and frag mounts.

Travis L. Stevens
03/12/2007, 03:13 PM
I've seen that before, and it's a good idea.

GARFVolunteer
03/12/2007, 04:29 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9458256#post9458256 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Travis L. Stevens
It would be well worth giving it a try. Especially with your cement. I believe they call that Type III around my area, but I'm not sure. Type I is tried and true, cheap, easy to find, and I have all the time in the world to wait for the pH to level out.


Here is the Riverside White cement info off of the TXI website.

Comparable to Type I and Type III
Manufactured so the finished product is white
Common uses: Swimming pool plaster, roofing tile, precast curtain walls, architectural panels, terrazzo surfaces, stucco, cement paint, decorative grouts and mortars.
Available in bulk, 2000 lb super sacks, 94 lb bags
Specifications: ASTM C-150 Type I Low Alkalai; Federal SS-C 1960/3

GARF has been using it for years and they are the ones that pointed me in that direction. It costs quite a bit more than other cements I have used ($18 to $26) and there is no waiting for the pH to drop.

chrismhaase,

Thanks for the link...

Scott

Travis L. Stevens
03/12/2007, 04:42 PM
I have a friend that uses the Type III and it is very white. Cool looking stuff with low Kure time. I'll still stick with Type I because I'm a cheap skate ;)

chrismhaase
03/12/2007, 08:34 PM
I have a question about making live rock- since you assume that you are supposed to use sand and oyster shells, well, what if you went to the beach(I do live in FL) and got a bunch of sand and shells there? Would this be the same? I could go there, dry out the sand in a kiddie pool, then use it and the shells I got. I could then make everything in the kiddie pool. And when I was done I could use the kiddie pool as a curing tank. Plus, it will be outside so it could get natural sunlight to start the color process.

What do you think?

Travis L. Stevens
03/13/2007, 07:51 AM
I wouldn't do that because beaches are natures skimmer cups. All the foam and pollution washes up on shore, and you have to contend with runoff from inland sources. Now, making it in a kiddie pool, and filling it with water after it is Cured is perfectly viable. As far as natural sunlight goes, it won't matter. It will just spark freshwater algae to grow that will later need to come off before adding it in the display tank since it will die and rot away.

chrismhaase
03/13/2007, 08:05 AM
travis, what if I change it daily and have a powerhead?

Travis L. Stevens
03/13/2007, 08:18 AM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9463869#post9463869 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by chrismhaase
travis, what if I change it daily and have a powerhead?

Again, it's the pollutants that I would worry about. It can be anything from nasty organic compounds that could deteriorate over time, or it could be contain heavy metals that could potentially be deadly to future livestock. Any small oil or oil-like spill in an area that you collect the sand from could be devestating. I would just suck it up and purchase some refined signed from a hardware store. $5 for 50lbs isn't much compared to $5 for fish food or a cheap fish.

musty baby
03/13/2007, 02:37 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9459149#post9459149 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by GARFVolunteer

GARF has been using it for years and they are the ones that pointed me in that direction. It costs quite a bit more than other cements I have used ($18 to $26) and there is no waiting for the pH to drop.

Scott

Scott-

I know someone that purchased a good portion of Garf rock roughly 3 years ago. Just wondering if the cement you mentioned in the abbreviated post above is what was probably used. The rock is very weak now, and the owner's larger rocks have been reduced to much smaller pieces through normal actions like moving, cleaning, peeling zoanthids, etc.

chrismhaase
03/13/2007, 02:39 PM
Travis, you are right. The pollutants I never thought of. I guess I will have to break down and get the pure sand from the stores. I didn't think it was that cheap.

Travis L. Stevens
03/13/2007, 02:41 PM
Wow! Re-reading a few posts and noticed some serious spelling mistakes. Maybe I need to slow down. "Signed" = "Sand" ;)

GARFVolunteer
03/13/2007, 03:28 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9466896#post9466896 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by ryansholl
Scott-

I know someone that purchased a good portion of Garf rock roughly 3 years ago. Just wondering if the cement you mentioned in the abbreviated post above is what was probably used. The rock is very weak now, and the owner's larger rocks have been reduced to much smaller pieces through normal actions like moving, cleaning, peeling zoanthids, etc.

I had a friend that had the same problem. From what I understand, for a few years, GARF mixed zeoliths in the rock which after a few years, made it fragile.

I would have that person call GARF and see if they will work with him/her.

Thanks,

Scott

GARFVolunteer
03/13/2007, 03:30 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9466941#post9466941 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by Travis L. Stevens
Wow! Re-reading a few posts and noticed some serious spelling mistakes. Maybe I need to slow down. "Signed" = "Sand" ;)

Google spell checker would have no problems with signed or sand... My big one is typing "you" instead of "your"

musty baby
03/13/2007, 03:46 PM
You, your, you're, yore, it's all the same to some people :)

Thanks for the suggestion with Garf. They were very nicely shaped rocks to begin with, it was a shame to have them breaking apart.

chrismhaase
03/13/2007, 04:17 PM
So is Type I the best to make the live rock out of?

Travis L. Stevens
03/13/2007, 04:22 PM
<a href=showthread.php?s=&postid=9467704#post9467704 target=_blank>Originally posted</a> by chrismhaase
So is Type I the best to make the live rock out of?
I don't know if I would go as far as saying the "best", but it is definitely the most widely used with great results.

chrismhaase
03/13/2007, 04:52 PM
okay sounds good thanks. Also, Travis how do you get that quote box? Everyone does it and I have no idea how to do it. Whats the trick.

Travis L. Stevens
03/13/2007, 05:01 PM
In the top right corner of every post, there is a button that quotes the post. It looks like this http://reefcentral.com/forums/images/quote.gif

Also, you can add quote tags around a group of words to do this. Here is an example:

[!QUOTE]This is the quoted phrase[!/QUOTE]

Take out the exclamation points (!) and you have...

This is the quoted phrase

Capitalization of the tags doesn't matter. It can be [quote] or [QUOTE]

chrismhaase
03/13/2007, 05:04 PM
Thanks man, I did not even notice that over there.