View Full Version : How can you tell....

08/30/2010, 12:55 PM
So I have a beginning noobie question. I have read quite a bit, and can't seem to find an answer to this. I know the importance of live rock and live sand. But how can you tell if the rock is "live" or if the sand if "live"? Other than your LFS telling you that is what they are selling, or by someone telling you that is what they have. I am sure there is probably a really stupid easy answer, so thank you to anyone who replies.

08/30/2010, 01:08 PM
:bounce3: WELCOME TO RC AND THE ADDICTION!! :bounce3:

Here is some great info put together by Waterkeeper.
This will help you alot :)


08/30/2010, 03:46 PM
"live" simply is telling you that the rock has a population of denitrifying bacteria. These bacteria are what break down waste. Without them, the rock is dead.

Any rock which is in an established tank will be colonized by these bacteria. On the other hand, a piece of good looking (but dead) reef rock in a fish bowl of regular water will never become live. This is because the fish bowl contains no denitrifying bacteria.

I hope that helps!

08/30/2010, 08:44 PM
Question, what do want from your live rock?
Do you want to see stuff growing and crawling around on it as soon as you get it.
OR do you want to buy dead rock with live bacteria living in it?
There are a couple options of liverock IMO
If you want a saltwater tank with liverock containing only live bacteria and maybe a spot or two of (encrusting coralline alge, with good lighting and good water it will spread )
Ask around from people who has bought liverock from there and find out if the rock stinks bad when they first got it,if so it is not cured liverock yet!
Your liverock should not smell bad when you get it, if it does that will be dead or dying things like sponges, bristle or tube worms, or maybe even something dead inside the rock, dead things on or in the liverock when put in your tank will quickly raise the Ammonia level to a deady level for and living creatures that may have survived to this point, that is when the good bacteria will break the Ammonia down and will change to Nitrites then it breaks down to Nitrates (all are dangerious for tank critters during this time if high) this is my verson of plain talk, for exact break down of this maybe someone who spells and types better and faster will help! and this type of liverock usually takes weeks of running the lights off and numerious large water changes to cure the liverock.
This is how I started 13 years ago! After having it for a couple years and was mostly covered in purple coralline alge a few bristle and tube worms had survived I added corals to cover up most of it but I always wanted lots of critters in and on the liverock and not so many corals(but that is just me) so after around the 13 year point and after reading for years about tbsaltwater.com and looking at their customers pictures I decided to try them out!

The REAL LIVE ROCK IMO ( again this is my experiance only )
I purchaced 50 lbs. of LIVE ROCK and 90 gal. critter package from (TBS) tbsaltwater.com
and a complete 35 gal. package for my 35 gal.tank
HE ships it submerged in water from the time he harvests it from the ocean till you recieve it (other then a few seconds moving from each water source)
It cost a little more to ship it this way, but well worth it IMO
short version
I recieved the first shipment 8/13/2010
My 90 gal. already had about 100 lbs of figi in it after I took the most colorfull 50lbs.off the top, so i added 50 lbs. TBS on top and around my other!
My 90 gal.Ammonia never went up at all on this tank after adding this TBS LIVE ROCK!
My 35 gal.Ammonia went up to .25 on day 3 and back to 0 Ammonia on day 4
the 35 was a complete new setup only pre made saltwater,protein skimmer and pumps was in the tank untill the 1 part of the package arrived which was 35 lbs. of REAL LIVE ROCK and 35 lbs. of REAL LIVE SAND!
The TBS livesand is full of critters like tiny stars fish, dif. kinds of tiny crabs, dif. kinds of small snails etc. and the LR and the LS has all the right kinds of bacteria already in it also.

I haven't posted pictures of the 35 on the Reef Central pages yet but I will after I get the second half of the 35 setup!

I didn't do a water change on the 35 until day 10 and then I only did 4 gallons just to help get the Nitrates down to 20 PPM
and I still havn't did one yet on the 90 gal because all my test readings are where they need to be for now!
But i still have over 100 gallons of SW made because I figured I would need it the first few days after adding that much LIVEROCK at one time.
I havn't had much die off at all on the TBS stuff, I lost part of a purple sponge, and a pink sponge so I went ahead and started feeding all the stuff with a turkey baster by quirting it directly tward the live stuff on the rocks.
My rock from TBS has stuff like cup corals,sea squirts tunicates dif colors like orange,green, red, purple or moroon color,yellow and sponges are red,white,blue,purple,orange, and pink (the pink quickly died before I started feeding)
"i was wating to feed because I thought it might help raise my ammonia if it started to spike but it didn't"
it has lots of dif. good alge growing on it, barnicles,clams and mol., and a lot of good hitchickers like pistol shrimp, green and red matrax crabs, green emerald crab,small decrator crab, porcelain crabs, and also some that peope say are ba like gorilla crabs, rock crabs, a couple more types that I couldn't get an ID on, mantis shrimp, small black sea urchin, thats all I can think of right now that I have seen in mine!
If you would like to see lots of dif. types of critters you will love this type!
If you would like any more info from me just let me know, I don't mind at all!
In case you would like to see my 90 gal. pics. and more detailed info on my exp. with this check out this link http://reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1894123
and if you would like close up shots of each rock to see more PM me and I will zip. them up and e-mail them to you if it would help and you can see the bottom rock in my tank is figi and a few pieces of tonga and one waltsmith. ALL 3 of these I consider to fit the first type of live rock with out any real live stuff except bacteria IME and all the top and most of the outer is what I call REAL LIVE ROCK IMO
I have pictures of almost all of what I listed and some of critters I don't have a clue what they are!

I know this is long but I hope it helps, I don't mind telling you my shipping cost or whatever. I just wanted to tell you *** much as I could before someone from a LFS interupts what I had to say as they sometimes do!

I am pretty new to this sight and have only spoke with a few people here, there are many oppinions about everything,and some from people that has something to gain like some LFS. I try to only tell about my experiances so I know they are fact not spectulation, some folks don't like straight talking people so I will probly make some one mad but don't think any thing about it as they will get over it. The one picture of either side you will see both types of rocks so make you own choice as to what you are looking for and want, don't let me or any one tell you what you want make you own choice and be happy reefing:) Good Luck on your choices you will do good and always ask for help if needed! There are a lot of good folks here with years of exp. and most with good intentions!

08/30/2010, 09:44 PM
I wanted to add, I think the only reason my TBS LIVE ROCK still has most of the critters and stuff still alive on and in it is because the way they handle the rock from the time they take it from the ocean and put it straight in to water in the boat, out of the boat and containers of saltwater into your boxes with saltwater, and ship it air port to air port and I know someone will want to know how a box can hold water, the outside is a colorfull card board box,inside that is a foam box liner with a foam lid ( white cooler type foam) fits in the cardboard boxes snug, Then inside that there are 4-5 layers of thick comercial type plastic bags with enough salt water inside to cover over all LR or LS the the top of the bags are tightly twisted and folded and tied with several large rubber bands.

Just in case some one cares, even including the water, I ordered a total of 85 lbs. of premium LR, 35 lbs. of LS, and my hermits,snails,cucumbers, peppment shrimp, etc . plus he always gives a little more rock then you order, and other little surprises like Gorgonia, anemones, colorfull types of good alge don't know the name big red and bushy!
Don't know what extras I might get on the part 2 for the 35 thats part of the fun :)
total weight was 245 lbs. i am just guessing but the water was probly about 100lbs. of the weight,
From Tampa Fl. to Dallas Tx. @ 245 total lbs. costed me at the air port $165.00
There is a $100.00 min. on these boxes any way so I figured at most I payed was $65.00 extra ship submerged in saltwater to keep every thing alive till I got it here to give it all the best chance to survive! I would pay that again any time for the extra critters that survived!
This was my cost just to give anyone an Idea of the extra cost to ship in water! weight on boxes i didn't know but it was six like about 24x24x12h each

08/31/2010, 06:38 AM
It's actually quite simple to tell if it's live, put in a small piece of shrimp from the grocery store, wait a day, and then test for ammonia. If you don't have any measurable ammonia, then the rock is live.

Side note, if the rock is covered in purple, red or green coraline algae, and you watched it come out of a tank of water, chances are that it's alive....

08/31/2010, 09:28 PM
It's actually quite simple to tell if it's live, put in a small piece of shrimp from the grocery store, wait a day, and then test for ammonia. If you don't have any measurable ammonia, then the rock is live.

Side note, if the rock is covered in purple, red or green coraline algae, and you watched it come out of a tank of water, chances are that it's alive....

^^^^This is what I was looking for. Just wanted confirmation that what I had was indeed "live". I am very new to this, and I got my setup off of a guy on craigslist. He said that the sand was live and the rock was live. Just wanted to make sure that what he told me was accurate. I do have purple coralline growing on the rock, and we did take it out of the tank as we took the tank apart. So I suppose that I do have live rock. As for the sand, I guess I am not really sure yet if it is live sand or not. Thank you to all that replied.