Originally Posted by jeff20578
so i should get all the likve rock right now?
Because you ask this question, i think you are still not fully understanding the concept of filtration in a marine aquarium. Lets expand a bit.
In a FRESHWATER aquarium, filters are designed to break down waste with an end result of Nitrate accumulation. Water changes are used to keep Nitrates low.
These filters are not practical for a saltwater aquarium, for 3 reasons:
1) The size and frequency of the water changes required to keep nitrates near zero would be extremely time consuming, and even more expensive.
2) SW fish require more stability in their environment, and do not respond well to frequent or large water changes.
3) The process of waste being broken down (biological filters) and the process of mechanical filtration (filter pads) cause changes to alkalinity, pH, calcium, magnesium, borate, and phosphate. All of these changes make it difficult to properly stabilize the system for long term success.
As a result of these difficulties, the SW hobby uses a natural form of filtration. A protein skimmer, live rock, and deep sand bed are the basics for a successful marine system. The skimmer removes the bulk of the organic waste. The live rock processes biologically any waste that is not removed by the skimmer, but continues the biological breakdown by turning Nitrate into Nitrogen Gas, which leaves the system naturally. Finally, the live sand offers denitrification of NItrate, and a safehaven for copepods, amphipods, and other natural food sources to multiply.
To properly achieve this method of filtration, you must have the proper size skimmer, 1-2'' of live rock per gallon of water (depending on density), and 4-5'' of aragonite sand (no more no less).
The "cycle" will take several days to weeks, depending on your live rock source. LIve rock which has already been in an aquarium will likely have loads of beneficial bacteria and cycle the aquarium within a few short days. Live rock at the LFS, which originated from the ocean a few short weeks ago, will need time to "cure" before the aquarium can cycle.
Curing of live rock refers to the die off of organisms on and inside the live rock which occurs during shipping from the ocean to the LFS. This can take a few weeks to a few months, depending on the rock. If the rock has a strong odor, it has not cured.
Finally, and MOST IMPORTANT, is this question... "When does the tank mature?" A mature aquarium is one that is ready for most fish and corals to be added. You have to visibly watch the aquarium to answer this. A test kit won't tell the entire story. A mature aquarium has cycled, has passed the stage of a diatom bloom, has coraline algae growing and spreading, has Nitrates that have risen and dropped to zero or very near zero, and has an abundance of copepods, amphipods, etc, and has stable and somewhat predictable calcium and alkalinity levels. This process takes 5 or 6 months. You should want a mature aquarium before adding anything but the easiest to keep of marine fish.