It is rare to see nano aquariums that have a bare floor. Most of the time, it is usually covered in fined sand, along with the addition of a few pieces of fine looking live rock.
Why it is called live rock?
For beginners, you might be wondering why these inanimate objects are called live rock. The reason is due to the wide variety of organisms that have an ecosystem around the rock. Examples of such organisms include the likes of algaes, worms etc.
Benefits of live rock
You might be wondering why do we need live rocks when curated rocks or inanimated rocks are cheaper. There are actually a couple of nice reasons for doing so:
- One of the most powerful benefit of live rock its ability to covert ammonia, which can harm the fishes if levels are unbalanced, to harmless nitrogen gas. Such conversion helps to maintain a natural biological filter that keeps the ecosystem in harmony. Without it, you will need to manually balance your water ammonia levels to achieve the same result.
- Provide edible micro organisms to some fishes in the tank
- Boost the bacteria populations in the tank. This comes from the micro organisms that we talk about earlier on.
With so many benefits that are useful to the maintenance, it is no wonder that most nano tank owners prefer to use live rock.
What to look for when buying live rock
Now that we know the basics of live rock, it is time to learn what things to look for when deciding on what rocks to buy:
- Porous: The more porous a live rock is, the easier it is for bacteria to grow and we all know from the above that bacteria helps to maintain the biodiversity of the tank. A porous rock tends to look more ‘alive’ due to more micro organisms being able to be created around it
- Size: Some live rock brands look absolutely beautiful but unfortunately couldn’t fit into the size of a nano tank. Do note of that before you are mesmerized by how good the rock will look!
- Density: Live rock that are very dense means that you can to buy more rocks to fill the same amount of space. If you are on a budget, choosing a less dense rock will save you money
- Curing vs uncured: Curing refers to the process of removing all the dead organisms that results from the rock being removed from the water and exposed to air. Usually, this is done by soaking them in running water for a couple of days to weeks, depending on how much exposure the rock is to the air. The best way to tell is by the smell. If the live rocks smell bad, then you need a longer curing process.
Best live rock for the money
There are a couple of famous live rock brands in the market that you can consider but the best has to be Fiji rocks. It is porous and is not as dense as other live rocks. In other words, you get more volume per dollar, with ability to easily increase the bacteria level in your water.
When it comes to buying Fiji rocks, there are many vendors to buy from. The important thing is to choose from one that ships via air freight after harvesting the live rocks. These type of rocks will have more micro organims surviving given the speed which they are delivered. The other vendors might packed the live rocks and transport them by sea. When the rocks finally arrived, most of the organisms will already be dead. So, be very careful about whom you buy the Fiji rocks from.
Another thing to look out for is whether the venders have cured the live rock for you. If it is already been pre-cured, it will save you a lot of time. You will still need to cure them but not for as long as a totally uncured live rock.
Premium Caribean review
One of the best place to buy live rock is from this vendor called Premium Caribbean. The rocks it is selling are farmed on their site so they are not spoiling the natural ocean ecosystem. Best of all, they will pre cure the live rocks so it saves you time. They also have solid packaging.
What they do is to presoak the live rock in salt water before shipping so that it is fully hydrated. In this way, the live rock will stay wet as long as possible and will not require as much curing time when it reaches you. More importantly, this will also preserve it color and beauty, which is one of the main reason for buying them in the first place.
Finally the company offers great value of money. Not only is the pricing affordable but they also tend to pack extra relative to the weight that you are buying. If you are looking for a good value vendor with honest service, I highly recommend you take a look at Premium Caribbean.
ARC Reef review
Another trust worthy seller of live rock is ARC Reef. They deliver pre cured live rock like Premium Caribbean that does not need further curing unless your shipping takes more than 4 days. All the live rocks are also grown on their own sites so they are environmentally friendly as well.
The only difference between the 2 brands is the price. ARC reef charges a high premium pricing as it has a higher concentration of micro oganisms that include everything from algae to corals to worms. If you want a live rock that has more of it without you putting in the effort, then the price is worth a piece of mind and time savings.
Having a live rock in your nano tank adds a lot of character and beauty to your little piece of ocean. Some might just prefer dry rock vs live rock but I think the money and effort are worth it.