View Full Version : Anyone use TBS rock for SPS tanks?

05/28/2017, 01:53 PM
I've been thinking about starting another SPS tank but want to get some live rock. I want rock that is already cycled with all of the good bacteria on it. I understand that it comes with its drawbacks of potential pests but I'd be able to live with that over having to wait a couple years to mature dry rock. Anyone go this route or have any feedback on this idea?

05/28/2017, 03:01 PM
If you can budget the rock, go for it, it's great. Most of what you get on it will die off within the first 6 months, but the stuff that remains (pest aside) really helps and is nice IMO. I had quite a few (I'm talking dozens here) gorilla crabs with 60lbs of rock, mostly small, but they were there. Two of the larger ones ate my clams not long after getting it, so there went $250 down the drain. I think I may have gotten unlucky with the rocks I received, but I really haven't regretted using the rock and my tank did extremely well after adding it (until I messed things up on my own).

I would purchase again, but maybe under different/better circumstances I would QT it and try to remove pests before introducing.

05/28/2017, 06:53 PM
It is either quarried rock, or walt smith man-made before it goes in the ocean. Either way, it will be full of life and can be really good. It will not, however, be as porous and full of denitrifying capabilities of pacific live rock which has been the ocean for years and has live beyond the first part of an inch. The man-made rock has epoxy on it that does not penetrate and the cement is also very dense. The quarried rock can be porous, but it will take a LONG time for the microfauna to get down in there. It is not usually full of phosphate, so that is awesome.

You can get all of the coralline and sponges that you need from pacific rock. I do like that the cycle of pacific rock does kill all of the inverts. Pacific rock is usually lighter.

I usually buy a few boxes at a time of something from the pacific and cure it myself. It ends up being 5-6 a pound all-in for 120 pounds, or so.

Here is how I rate rock:

1). Real pacific live rock
5). TBS - good, but not the best, IMO
20). Used live rock - can be awesome, but can be full of phosphates, so I stay clear unless I know the hobbyist whom had it
50). Lace Rock - dead, but at least not all bound up with organics and phosphates
100). Dead/Dry rock - I would never use it unless I had no other choice.

05/29/2017, 12:53 AM
Where do you order your pacific live rock from? Have you found that it comes with lots of aptasia?

05/29/2017, 09:40 AM
Aiptasia comes from the frag plugs, corals, snail and crab shells that you will put into your tank anyway. Don't believe the pest-free live-rock argument for a minute. The first thing that you put in your tank is capable of bringing in everything that you never wanted.

The pacific live rock has to cycle - aiptasia will not survive this.

Go to a few of the good stores around you and ask to buy uncured LR by the box. Price compare and shop. This is as cheap as you can buy it. Add in another $1 a pound, or so, to cure it yourself. If there are none, then Google will find some places for you online. Fiji Pukani is usually available. You might even be able to manage a drive down to LA and buy some really cheap from a wholesaler.

They might ask you about boat rock - this is stuff that is boated after being collected before being put on a plane to you. It is out of the water for a lot longer. This is fine. The live creatures on the rock are not what you are after. You are after the phosphate free rock that is full of bacteria, nooks, crannies and porous structure. Boat rock can take a bit longer to cycle, but will look like any other rock in six months. It is usually really cheap.

Whether you buy TBS or pacific rock, nearly all of the stuff that is on it will be dead a number of months - it is not suitable for aquarium life. The rock is the prize, not the inhabitants. The good inhabitants will all come back - the coralline, pods, sponges, etc.

05/29/2017, 01:08 PM
Thanks for all of that information. I wasn't to worried about bringing in a few aptasia in on the rock. I have a buddy that works at a store that says that the stuff he has brought in was loaded with aptasia.

The bacteria is really the only live part of the rock that stays intact? If that is this case that makes the TBS rock a little less desirable since it doesn't have the porousness of the natural live rock. I guess that's what you were getting at in your first post to the thread haha.

Would you just stick with the dead rock like I already have and seed it with some live rock? I think for the most part the phosphates are already leached out.

05/29/2017, 02:34 PM
You are going to need a plan for aiptasia. It will get into your tanks on a frag plug or snail shell no matter what you do with the rock.

Pods, sponges, coralline and bacteria will all come back after cycling live rock. Crabs, worms, shrimp and most corals and algae will die - this is a good thing since if any of this stuff was good, the wholesaler would have removed it and sold it separately. :)

The porous nature of the rock and being totally phosphate free is the prize. The microfauna will return, or you can add it.

05/30/2017, 05:28 PM
Would you agree that TBS might be the best place to seed an already established aquarium then? Im considering finding a good place to buy some good rock to add to my current setup. Asking some local reefers for some LR rubble might be a good option too.

05/30/2017, 05:40 PM
If find a lfs close and buy a box of fresh Pacific live rock from them. I'm in the middle of the country and there are a couple local lfs that get it in every so often you should be able to find some of there in California.