Scared of 'Curing'
OK I've decided to get about 20-40kg of LR pre-boxed. So the LFS can order me 20KG box for $180AUD, but they do not handle the rock in any way, or should I buy LR that is partially cured for $280. The only thing I am worried about is that I keep reading that there are nasties in the rock, like worms etc and they can bite or cause skin irritation, and you got to pick all the nasties off yourself etc. I will most likely wear rubber gloves while handling the LR...but is it really as bad as it seems? Or is it worth spending an extra $100 per 20kg to save me a bit of trouble?
Also this is a new tank, so should I be curing it directly in the tank or in a separate bucket or something? I am thinking it would be easier to clean the rock, do water changes etc in the bucket, plus I can leave it in another room so it doesn't stick out the house. Or would that be pointless for the tank cycling curing it outside the tank?
You shouldn't be afraid of curing your own rock, so long as it's done properly.
When you get rock from the LFS its coming from the same place, it just goes into their tanks for a little while before going home with you. Most of this rock is already cured, but with any live rock, when you move it to a new environment, there will be a period of die off. Different things in and on the rock will die due to the change in conditions, so if using rock to cycle your tank (which is the healthiest way), the die off will be enough ammonia to get your cycle started.
Watch your water quality with water testing, starting within a day or 2 of adding the rock to the tank. If you choose to use buckets to soak the rock, be forewarned you will need a heater and filter on there, and a skimmer is a good idea also. If it were me, it would go right into the tank.
Expect it to take at least 6 - 8 wks before it will be safe enough to add any animals. If you track your cycle, watch for ammonia and nitrite to hit 0 (after spiking) and for a nitrate level to show up. Do a 30% water change at that point and then start choosing and adding your first animals. Also watch your calcium levels. They should be between 400 - 500, but once the rock and animals go into the tank this will tend to fluctuate... so you may find you will need to add a suppliment at some point.
So, is it safe to order the "uncured rock"... yes. Is it safe to put it directly into your tank... yes. Is it as dangerous as you're concerned about... no. There are things in the rock that can irritate the skin, but using rubber gloves can cause problems if you don't know what kind to get. Basic laytex surgical gloves have a powdery residue on them that will contanimate your tank and anything else in it... but the thick dish washing gloves (usually yellow or orange) are usually safe. Rinse the gloves thoroughly before using them, just plain water, no detergents. I have been handling live rock with bare hands for over 10 yrs now and never had a problem. Just look at it before you pick it up, make sure you don't have any open cuts or sores on your hands, and move it from box to tank quickly. The rock will come packaged with wet newspaper around it to keep it moist. It's extremely important not to let that rock dry out. If you find the need to keep it in the box, open it up and pour some saltwater over it to wet down the newspaper, then seal it back up.
Hope this helps...
when you are cycling your tank with ("not cured rock") should I put the live sand in at the same time or after it has been cured? should i be running lights in the tank when curing the rock?
Yes, add sand and rock at the same time, and run a regular light cycle of 8 - 10 hrs on while the tank is cycling.
Before adding anything be sure spg/salinity is between 1.023 - 1.025. If salinity isn't within range and stable the lack of salt can kill anything beneficial in your rock and sand bed both. Also make sure temp is stable at about 76 - 78 degrees. Same reason.
is it possible to cure dried rock or sand? if so how long will it take and how
Yes, that is very possible. If you go to your lfs, most of them will sell what is called "base rock". This is simply dried (and usually bleached) live rock. Provided it is porous enough to be good for a marine environment, things like lava rock, tufa rock, and a number of others can all be used to turn into live rock. Sand the same thing applies... provided it's arragonite sand and not silica or play sand. I have been known to save old live sand, clean it out good and dry it, store it for when I need to add depth to an established tank. Add a new bag of live sand, or sand from an aquarium that has been established and stable for at least 1 full year to a vat or tank... again be sure spg/salinity is right and temp is mid 70's before you add anything already live to it... and then simply pour in your dried sand, and/or dried rock, and let it mix with powerheads and skimmer for a few months.
Yes, sorry... it does take quite a bit of time to cure live rock... sand you could add to existing sand in an established tank and wait a good 6 - 8 wks. Rock, again dependent on density, how much established rock is present, how much established sand is present, etc. With rock I like to just add it 1 piece at a time to an existing tank, watch for coraline growth on it, and then remove it if it's meant for another tank, and then go about adding another to that original established tank. It tends to be the easiest, cheapest, and most convenient way to do things.
If starting a brand new tank, set it up with everything needed except fish, and let it run with the established rock, established sand, and dried rock and sand, and just let it "cycle" for a longer period of time. Again, if healthy, you should see coraline algae growth on the rock as it cures.
Please don't add a large amount of dried rock or sand to any established aquarium at one time. You pose the risk of the tank not being able to properly handle the waste load of the animals, and any type of die off or debris from the rock and/or sand polluting a healthy tank. If using a main tank to do this, do it slowly and only 1 - 2 pieces at a time, depending on how large the tank is and how much established rock and sand are present.
ok so im about to get about 40 pounds of live rock and sand but they are dried, so ill have to cure it right? could i just used the 40 pounds of dried rock and sand and just go buy like a 20 pound bag of arag-alive? and to cure it all i gotta do is leave everything in the tank and let it run for about a month right?
To seed that much rock and sand in the main tank, expect it to take a few bags of established sand and/or at least 30 - 40 lbs of cured rock and it's going to take at least a few months....
There is no way to rush something like this, it's a matter of organisims growing and reproducing, which they will only do at their own rate. If your ratio of cured to uncured is more than 50/50, it's going to take much much longer. If your ratio of cured to uncured were 60/40 or 70/30 then you could expect 3 - 4 months to do the job if conditions stayed good and stable. That means running your proper aquarium light on a regular day/night cycle the entire time, water changes after the first 8 wks or so, watching to keep spg/salinity stable at 1.023 - 1.025, good filtration with lots of bio media, and stable temp in the mid 70's for the entire time.
Remember, you are creating a living environment, and those things take time and patience.
could i buy 40 pounds of liive sand and about 20 of unlive sand? how long would that take to cure?
That would work, and I'd give it about 6 - 8 wks before I'd consider it safely cured.
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