11-29-2006, 01:19 AM
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You have a unique LFS if that's the rock you're purchasing/finding. Most LFS's will term that as "coral frag" and charge much more for the coral, some will even add the charge of the rock to the price of the coral.
Around here, to buy a mushroom, typically, you get either just a mushroom, no rock, or a mushroom on a very very small piece of rock. If there is more than one mushroom on a larger rock, it is termed "mushroom cluster" and the prices goes WAY up to account for the number of mushrooms.
This tends to apply with all of the rock/corals we have available around here in the LFS's. When we buy our live rock from the LFS there are tanks of "just rock" and it doesn't tend to be there long enough to grow anything yet. Sometimes it will have coraline growth on it, but that tends to be minimal from the sales tank. The rock in the sales tanks is usually shipped in as "bulk rock" that may or may not have been cured yet.
Something else to look for when selecting good rock is density. If the rock is very heavy, it is more dense, and thus less "quality" for biological filtration purposes. The lighter weight to the rock, the better job it will do, and the better it tends to grow.
The best approach is to call around to local LFS's and find out what types of rock they have available, as not all types are easily found everywhere.
Another option is to work with tufa rock, cure it yourself, and create your own "live rock", but this can take a great deal of time. The easiest approach to doing this is to start with cured live rock and add tufa rock a few pieces at a time to the established tank. Do not, by any means, rely on uncured rock or plain tufa to work as filtration in the tank until it has been established for a minimum of 6 months - 1 yr. Cured rock is safe from the start, but always expect some kind of die off to happen, and for ammonia to spike at least slightly when adding it. In an established tank, sometimes it is useful to add it a few pieces at a time, and to let things settle between additions. In a new tank, it's best to add it all at once and let the tank cycle with just sand and rock for at least 2 - 4 wks, while watching water quality.