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My Local Hunt For Rock


Teebo

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I am hunting store to store in the Tampa area looking for rock to start a new nano tank. This is one of those things I want to buy locally so I can see it, especially since I only need a small amount. There are tons of choices so I am not sure what I should buy...preferably dry (I will be using live sand and Bio Spira, with dry rock free of pests) but if I buy wet rock I will let it dry out first. 
 
Store #1: I seem to have no problem finding "base rock" but that description doesn't make sense to me...as in not used to grow corals directly on but the lowest quality rock meant to be used where it will not be seen under my out layer of rock? Small tanks do not have room for core rocks. This store kept their base rock wet @ $2.99lb but it has zero character. 
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This store also had lots of Haitian rock @ $4.99lb which seems to be prevalent, nothing overly pronounced but it was the most cured rock I had seen locally...probably because it was a dirtier store less reefers trust so it had likely been there a while. 
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This store surprisingly had the best deal on CaribSea LifeRock @ $4.99lb but I do not really care for the painted surface so I would rather not use it. 
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They also have artificial painted branch rock (likely CaribSea) @ $6.99lb though I do not see a need for any of it right now. 
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Store #2: This was a much cleaner and larger store, again I found the "base rock" this was CaribSea South Seas dry base rock. Attractive looking to me @ $2.39lb. 
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Of course the Haitian rock is never hard to find, here too @ $4.99lb as well as the CaribSea Life Rock with the Life Rock being slightly more expensive here @ $5.99lb
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Store #3: This was a diverse but misleading store, as always the base rock was found here too at the best deal for $2.00lb for CaribSea South Seas.
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Here is where things started getting a little confusing, this store was selling the same CaribSea Life Rock (being sold as painted coraline rock) @ $6.99lb and the same branch rock @ $8.99lb! Then the top half of the sign listed 4 types of rock all @ $5.99lb which is where I started getting lost and the store owner was not of much help...I felt a bit deceived. First off I am pretty sure Fuji rock is the kind not being found in stores anymore due to the closure on exports from Fuji? I am not sure how to identify Totoka rock but I do not think there was any here. Pukani should be distinctive but I did not see any, then they had "slab rock" which I do not even know it sounds artificial to me but what he showed me looked like a dead piece of a very large table coral with the tips cut off. I really only saw two types of rock, one was very obvious they threw some South Seas base rock into the troth (which he admitted to me), and the other type was literally dead coral with well defined polyp dimples. Looks like someone dropped off a crashed tank to sell as live rock, not sure if it would make for good reef building?
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IMO, I like dry rocks; just break them up to your desired shape, do the aquascaping outside the tank, glue/epoxy it, and then put it in the tank to cure. If anything, you can buy 1lb of live rock (stare at it for a long time to make sure there's no aptasia or vemitid snails on it) to add live stuff to those dry rocks during the curing process.

 

When I think of base rock, I think of super huge gigantic pieces.

 

Also, the Fiji ban has been lifted. Fiji rock is pretty porous and generally contains a fudge ton of denitrifying bacteria (plus they look better than pukani imo). I also remember Haitian LR was a hot commodity back then and I remember they look pretty cool too (lots of shelf-shapes).

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If it's a nano, you're likely not going to need any base rock. When I hear base rock, I think big dense pieces of dry coral skeleton that are meant for a big tank. The nice thing about actual live rock is that it is full of critters, algaes and beneficial bacteria. The bad thing about actual live rock is that it's full of critters, algaes and hitchhikers you might not want in your tank. 

 

In our most recent setup, I went with Carib Sea's Life Rock. 

 

You might want to consider just picking up some Fiji (not fuji) or Haitian branch rock if you want to go au naturel.

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10 hours ago, Red_Blenny said:

IMO, I like dry rocks; just break them up to your desired shape, do the aquascaping outside the tank, glue/epoxy it, and then put it in the tank to cure. If anything, you can buy 1lb of live rock (stare at it for a long time to make sure there's no aptasia or vemitid snails on it) to add live stuff to those dry rocks during the curing process.

Exactly my thoughts too.

 

4 minutes ago, OPtasia said:

The bad thing about actual live rock is that it's full of critters, algaes and hitchhikers you might not want in your tank.

 

....Haitian branch rock if you want to go au naturel.

Thats why I want to go the dry rock route, this was the tipping factor. 

I do not think branch rock really looks that natural at all, especially in ratio to a 16 gallon nano. 

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Sea_Of_Treachery

Be very wary of LFS live rock. You just never know whats embedded within the pores. I personally have the 40lb box of the Caribsea Sea South Seas dry rock and love it. I don't really consider it "base", there are lots of nooks are crannies. It does take a while for it to become colonized with life and coralline but its free of all pests. I would highly recommend this rock but make sure you soak and rise in in a bucket of ro water for a few days because it is pretty dusty and there is a lot of calcium carbonate that will float to the surface.

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9 hours ago, Sea_Of_Treachery said:

Be very wary of LFS live rock. You just never know whats embedded within the pores. I personally have the 40lb box of the Caribsea Sea South Seas dry rock and love it. I don't really consider it "base", there are lots of nooks are crannies. It does take a while for it to become colonized with life and coralline but its free of all pests. I would highly recommend this rock but make sure you soak and rise in in a bucket of ro water for a few days because it is pretty dusty and there is a lot of calcium carbonate that will float to the surface.

I would certainly sun dry LFS rock, that is the plan if used. 

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