The breakdown of the organisms that reside on uncured and even cured live rock contributes to the accumulation of excess organic matter in any saltwater aquarium system. In turn this will cause a build-up or spike in ammonia, which you do not want. To help avoid this and other problems that can arise, here is a standard method for curing live rock BEFORE placing it into an established or a newly set up aquarium for use. It's easy to do, beneficial, and takes just a few items to set it all up.
Time Required: Varies
- Any type of plastic container, or an aquarium that is suitable in size to fit the amount of live rock you have to cure can be used for this project.
- Fill the curing container to a suitable level from the top with the saltwater. If you did not make-up and mix saltwater ahead of time in a separate container, you can do it right inside the curing container itself.
- Insert and run a heater set to the desired temperature.
- Hook up and run a water/powerhead pump in the water for circulation and oxygenation.
- Allow the water to adjust to the set heater temperature, and check the pH level. Make adjustments if needed.
- Once the saltwater is ready, turn off the heater and water pump, remove and save about 1/2 of the water in the container. This is done because the water level will rise when the rocks are placed into the container.
- Before placing the live rock into the curing container you have set up, is is best to preclean the rocks first. By taking the time to do this, it will help speed-up the curing time.
- After each piece of rock is precleaned, place it into the curing container.
- When all the rocks are in the curing container, refill it to a suitable level from the top using the saved saltwater, and then turn the heater and water pump back on.
- Now let it cure. This means doing nothing else but occasionally siphoning out dead or dying organic matter that has settled on the bottom, and topping off the water when needed. There is no set time frame for this process to run its course. Because many variables apply here, such as the quality of the live rock, the amount of growth that may die off in the process, how uncured or cured it was when you started, and so on, it may take only a few days, or say a month.
- So how do you know when the live rock is "cured"? While curing is taking place you can periodically test the ammonia level, as well as for the appearance of nitrite. When these tests' result in zero readings, it's ready. However, the simplest way to tell is by smell. The curing process can be a very smelly one, so when the water no longer exudes an odor, viola, it should be done!
- To help avoid unwanted algae blooms that may occur during the live rock curing process, lighting is not used.
- Because curing live rock can often be a rather smelly process, if at all possible you may want to cure it in an area where any odor that may result will not present a problem, such as in a garage or basement. However, be sure it is a place where the room temperature can be regulated, especially if doing this during winter.
- If it is impractical for you to cure live rock in a separate curing set up, it can be cured in the main aquarium before you start aquascaping the tank.
- Whether you purchased cured or uncured live rock, it can be placed directly into the aquarium for use if you choose to do so. However, if you do this and opt to bypass the curing process, it is strongly recommended to at least preclean the rocks first.
What You Need
- Curing Container
- Live Rocks
- Water/Powerhead Pump
- Siphoning Tool/Piece of Hose
- Ammonia Test Kit
- Nitrite Test Kit