Selecting live rock can seem simple, however there are some considerations you should keep in mind. Depending where you live, it may be difficult to find quality live rock and/or it can be very expensive. You do have options as I will explain, keep reading!

Live rock is a host to numerous organisms that live on it, and possesses several advantages for reef keepers around the world. The largest benefit for aquarists includes the ability for live rock to act as biological filtration for reef tanks. Live rock provides for a biological filter that is a host to anaerobic and aerobic bacteria, and is much needed for the nitrogen cycle to process waste.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when selecting live rock for your nano reef aquarium.

Selecting Live Rock, a Your Local Fish Store:

• For the vast majority of reef keeping enthusiasts, purchasing cured live rock is the way to go. Most local fish stores carry cured live rock.
• Before making the trip to your local fish store try and visualize how much live rock you may need. This will help limit the amount of live rock you may purchase. Adding too much live rock will limit water flow and the amount of space afforded to your fish and corals. There is a balance between adding too much or not enough. Keep in mind there must be enough bacteria for the biological filtration process to work.
• Noticeable odor is a sign that the live rock may not be fully cured and have other problems such as significant die off. Healthy live rock should smell like the ocean, otherwise the rock will most likely need to be cured.
• Avoid live rock with hitchhikers such as bristle worms and nuisance anemones. Note however, not all hitchhikers are all bad. In fact, most of the hitchhikers on live rock are beneficial, and are a great way to increase the biodiversity of your reef tank. This is easier said than done, as it can be very difficult to identify “bad” hitchhikers. To some degree you will need to rely on your source, however, choose to do business with those you trust.
• Try and choose live rock without a lot of dead matter (e.g. sponges, algae, etc.). This will save you time later on, as you will need to remove the dead matter before placing the rock in your aquarium. Keep in mind that adding rock with an abundance of dead matter, will unnecessarily pollute your water.
• The retailer will most likely take precautions, by wrapping the rock in a wet towel before you leave the store. You must keep the live rock moist during transport.

Selecting Live Rock Through an Online Retailer?

When purchasing live rock online, you should take precautions before introducing into your nano reef aquarium. Not only should you make sure to only purchase live rock that you need, but you must make sure to purchase the right type. There are several options such as cured, cycled, uncured, etc. For most aquarists cured live rock is your best option. Cured live rock typically is safe to place directly into your reef tank.

When surfing through pages of live rock options, make sure to take the time to read the product descriptions carefully. If you see fresh or uncured, this typically indicates that the rock will need to be cured before you try and add to your reef tank. On the other hand, cured or cycled indicated that the live rock is cured and can go directly into your aquarium.
Another consideration when purchasing live rock online is transit time. The more time your rock is in transit, the more chance for the increase in die off levels. If possible, choose online retailers closer to you or select a quick shipping method (cost is definitely a concern). It’s best to receive your live rock within 32 hours.

The reputation of the online retailer should also be an important consideration when purchasing live rock online. With the vast choices of online retailers, it can seem difficult to make a selection. Make sure to read customer reviews and read their return policy. Ask the retailer a question and see how quickly and sincere they are with their response. Try online chat if that is available. Is this someone you would want to do business with? In either case, always be sure to “prep” the rocks to limit the potential of introducing harmful organisms into your aquarium.

How Much Live Rock Do I Need for my Aquarium?

The general accepted rule in the aquarium hobby is 1-2 pound of live rock for every gallon of water volume. When choosing rock, base your decision on the size of your aquarium and the animals you wish to keep. Larger pieces are more suitable for larger tanks where you have more flexibility in aquascape the perfect scene. Smaller pieces are more suitable for nano reef aquariums. Further, aquarium maintenance will play a role. Make sure to choose live rock that will make it easy to clean the tank walls during your routine maintenance chores.
The direction of the water flow is an important design component when selecting live rock for your mini reef tank. The quantity of live rock and placement will either help or hinder, the more water flow the better.

How much does live rock cost per pound?

The cost of live rock varies greatly by type and location. Quality should always take precedence over price. Some examples of live rock cost is shown below:

• Florida Live Rock – $6.00/lb.
• Fiji Live Rock – $6.50/lb.
• Pukani Live Rock – $7.00/lb.
• Real Reef Live Rock (man made) – $7.00/lb.

What Are the Types of Live rock for Aquariums?

As you may have guessed, there are numerous types of live rock that aquarists can use successfully in a mini reef tank. Live rock is typically named after the region it from which it was found. For most reef keepers the live rock available in their local fish store will be more than sufficient and desirable. Having said that, some of the most common types of live rock include Fiji, Caribbean, and Tonga. Some rock is denser and more porous than others, however, all live rock serves a critical role. Live rock provides for a diverse variety of algae, invertebrates and bacteria.
Eco Friendly Live Rock. There are numerous options that are excellent choices for nano reef aquariums. Not only are you doing your part to save the environment, but it looks and works great. One of our favorites “Real Reef Rock” is made from natural and marine friendly ingredients. Since the ingredients are not harvested from the ocean, it is environmentally friendly. Because Real Reef live rock is grown is a closed system, it eliminates any environmental impact to our oceans.

Base rock should also be mentioned here as it can become live rock. Base rock (also referred to as dry rock) has no organisms growing on it. However, base rock has become popular for marine aquarists because it is a lot less expensive. Eventually, dry rock will become colonized by living organisms, thus become live rock.

In summary, the choosing the right live rock for your nano reef aquarium can seem daunting. However, with proper planning and some research, you are sure to find the perfect combination of quality, cost and aesthetics.