Now, the time it takes to cure live rock all depends on the type of rock you are starting with, as discussed in Curing Live Rock, and there is no set time frame. The bottom line is that curing time can take anywhere from a few days to a month.
The type of live rock you buy also determines how it should be cured, and don't be naive, even with fully cured live rock some level of die off will occur and some minor recycling will take place, because any addition to the bio-load of an aquarium will cause an increase in ammonia. How much all depends on whether or not you follow the Guidelines we outlined, especially the no smell and don't overload points! Purchasing cured live rock usually means it is already conditioned and is stable to use right away in an established aquarium with minimal concern, and is ideal for cycling a newly set up tank with. This would be the type you purchase direct from a local fish store that has been in their system for a period of time, or that you have taken from another aquarium that you have had established for a long time and use it to start or seed a new aquarium. It can also apply to mail order live rock, but only if it has been shipped properly, transit time has been fairly short, and very little die off has taken place by the time you receive it. No matter where the source of the cured live rock came from, if it smells or you are not sure of its quality, it is wise to allow it to cure in a separate system before introducing it into a main aquarium, even if just for a few days. And, whether using cured or uncured live rock, it is important to take the time to preclean and prepare it outside of the tank before introduction into any type of system as well. Once again, refer to the Guidelines!
Uncured or fresh base or live rock should never be added to an established aquarium. Whenever possible it should be placed in a separate system to allow it to fully cure first. The excessive ammonia spike that can be created by this type of rock will wreak havoc on the whole system and endanger the inhabitants that are living there.
The Standard Method Used For Curing Live Rock
The method most often used for curing uncured live rock is to place it in a completely separate, unlit (to prevent algae bloom problems), heated (compare heater prices), well filtered aquarium with powerheads and a protein skimmer (compare prices.) for at least a month, but before doing so clean and prepare it by striping the rock of all organisms that are dead or dying off. Once the rock has cured, it can then placed into the intended aquarium for aquascaping. For most hobbyists, this type of curing process may not be practical. For those on a tight budget or that don't have the extra room, it may not be feasible to have a complete separate tank running just for this purpose. However, you may be able to swing this type of set up using a suitable sized container such as a large plastic garbage can. And, of course you do have the option of cycling uncured live rock directly in a newly set up tank, if need be. So how can you tell when the live rock is cured? Simple. When it doesn't smell anymore, and your water test results for ammonia and nitrite are normal again. This means zero readings on both.
Now that you are ready to actually purchase some live rock, let's talk about what you need to do and look for when it comes time to buying it, either from a local fish store or an online supplier.
More Articles About Live Rock:
What Is Live Rock? Why Is It Used In Saltwater Aquariums?
Curing Live Rock
Guidelines For Working With Live Rock
How To Cure Live Rock
Tips For Buying Live Rock Locally or Online
Rock Grades and Making Your Own Live Rock