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Just some guy, you know?
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I have heard it 1,000 times, "live rock provides biological filtration" "You need 1.5 to 2 LBS per gallon".

I was looking back at my old log and found where I bought my live rock and it turns out that I only have 0.75 LBS/gallon. Would adding more benifit my tank? Would that help my coral or would it just provide another place for deatris to settle? My coral is doing alright, but it could be doing far better (compaired to other's tanks).

Thanks,
Whiskey
 

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Detritus is not a pet
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386 Posts
I think the question is more along the lines of "What is LR doing in my specific setup?"

I look at it this way, in my tank where I export as much crap as I can with my skimmer and there's no waste stored in the tank in a SB my LR is not working in the same way/capacity as in a tank the opossite of mine.

The basic processes are still the same (nitrifying, denitrifying, waste breakdown, blah, blah), but I'm pretty sure my LR is not working as much the LR in a DSB tank that has a lot of waste still in tank being processed.
 

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If I remember correctly, way back in the late ‘80s, before the DSB craze, the concept of using live rock as the foundation of a successful reef tank was introduced. I can’t remember whether the idea was, specifically, to control nitrate, but for a while there people were packing their tanks with so much rock that stuff would get under it and behind it and it was impossible to keep the tank clean. Of course, this was also the time under-gravel filters went out of favor, so without the under-gravel filter, tanks were bare-bottom (the “Berlin Method” was introduced).

Clearly, the experience of marine aquarium keepers in the late ‘80s suggests live rock alone isn’t sufficient to keep nitrate under control. High nitrate and phosphate was still a problem, as it has been for decades. You needed something else.

Of course, DSB advocates would say just add a six inch layer of sand to your tank and you’re good.

Maybe for a while, but certainly not indefinitely. :)

Modern bare-bottom tanks use a fairly small amount of live rock and rely on aggressive nutrient export (mainly through strong water flow and skimming) to keep nutrients under control. The philosophy is the same as the old Berlin Method, but the tools for keeping water in motion and for skimming out nutrients are much more effective now than they were fifteen years ago. Adding more live rock to a tank won’t hurt (as long as it doesn’t significantly inhibit the water flow or trap stuff). But, if you have problems with elevated nitrate and phosphate it’s best to attack it by increasing nutrient export rather than introducing additional, relatively static, biological filters into your tank. It has already been demonstrated that live rock, alone, will not prevent the buildup of nitrate and phosphate.
 

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Big C*ck
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172 Posts
Great post Weatherman!! Does anyone know if you could keep a tank full of fish without ANY liverock? Is the bacteria on all of the plumbing an tank walls enough?

For me, liverock is just a nice base to support my corals.
 

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Golden Shellback
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1,281 Posts
clockwork said:
I have seen a few overseas tanks with no live rock just sps and a few fish.
I would be interested to see their equipment and what they have in their sump. A tank like that seems super easy to keep clean. The overall idea appeals to me, but I like the 3 dimensional aspect of having rock in a tank. I would try something like that if I didn't have an eel that liked hanging out in the rock so much, but I'd have LR in my sump just because old habits die hard.
 

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Just some guy, you know?
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the great writeup Weatherman! I think you are right, without proper export live rock will fill up just like sand will and although it will take a bit longer your levels will jump up eventually.

ClockWork, you don't have any links to those tanks do you? I too would be very interseted in their setup, I would think that the bacteria would still need a place to colonize for the ammonia cycle if nothing else.

More live rock would compromise my ability to remove deatris from my tank, so I think I will leave it as is.

KwJones, the Red Green show kicks Arse. :thumbup:
I like having LR in my tank too as a place to put my coral like NoSchwag if nothing else, but 2 Lbs per gallon would be a tight tank and the fish would have no room to swim, not only that but the corals would have no room to grow.

Thanks all!
Whiskey
 

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Sufficiently porous live rock does provide a home for denitrifying bacteria, so having some in your tank does help keep nitrate under control. But, unless your bioload is really low, it isn't enough to keep nitrate at undetectible levels, in and of itself.

However, live rock does have other benefits:

1) Provides shelter for your fish and mobile invertebrates
2) Provides platforms on which your coral can grow
3) Provides a surface for algae to grow, so your herbivorous fish have something to nibble on all day
 

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Come on with the sites I too would like to see these tanks.:banana:
 

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I ran my tank for six months with all of the SPS sitting on eggcrate and no live rock or sand. I had a few fish that were fed daily. Nitrates were always at 0 and everything looked better than ever.
 
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