08-30-2008, 06:06 AM
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First, you are very lucky. Your father's 10 gallon aquarium is a perfect quarantine tank, and it is already set up! Just test the water for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH, and alkalinity. I will want to do a 50% water change prior to testing.
For the record, most fish have a natural life span of 7 years or more. It is extremely rare that a captive fish dies of old age.
On the questions about rock, i think you misunderstand "curing". Curing is the process where living organisims on the live rock die, as a result of the rock being taken out of the ocean. There are some organisms on the rock that die in transport, and other than simply can not live in an aquarium. These are generally microscopic organisms and bacteria, some algae, sponges, varieties of worms, etc. For the most part, the beneficial living creatures survive, including most beneficial bacteria.
With this understanding, the rock in your freshwater aquariums and your garden does not need to be cured. It needs to be cleaned. I would strongly recommend that after cleaning dirt from the rock with a powerful rinse, that you place the rock in boiling water for 30 minutes or so. Then give it another good rinse. If the rock is porous, I would suggest placing the rock back into a bucket of fresh water as a final step, leaving it for a couple of days, and then testing the ammonia. You never know what is inside the rock that may die off.
For the record, if this rock is porous, it will likely be seeded by new live rock additions to the aquarium and eventually one day become "live" itself. It the rock is more smooth in texture, then it will never really have any biological benefits to the aquarium, although it may be used as decoration or as a base for the other rock. Bottom line, the more porous the better. I personally use both tufa rock and lava rock as a base for live rock.