Aquarium Livestock

Live Rock Curing Procedures

After being harvested from the ocean, transported into our holding tanks, and then reshipped to the end customer, "die-off" of organisms will occur on the live rock. This is a natural reaction to the environmental stress of temperature changes and exposure to air. "Curing" live rock is the process of removing the dead and decaying organic material from your live rock before you can add livestock to your new aquarium, or before you add new live rock to your established aquarium. During the curing process ammonia levels from the decomposing organic material can reach toxic levels, and for this reason you should never add new live rock to an existing aquarium. Most of the beneficial nitrifying bacteria and some of the other corals, macroalgaes, and animals will survive this process, providing you with the foundation for a successful marine aquarium.

Curing your live rock usually takes from one to three weeks depending upon the amount organic material that is on the live rock. This can be highly variable depending on what type of live rock is purchased. Follow these steps for the best results.

You will need the following supplies:
• A trash can or storage container of suitable size to submerge the live rock, 30 gallons is usually a good size
• A submersible aquarium heater big enough to keep the water at 80 degrees during the curing process
• A submersible pump, or pumps, to provide vigorous water movement in the container
• A soft scrub brush and an old tooth brush, to remove debris from surface of the rock.
• Synthetic salt mix
• Salt water ammonia test kit.

  1. Premix enough saltwater to completely submerge rock in your large container upon arrival.
  2. Use the soft scrub brush to remove any loose or obviously decaying material; use a toothbrush to get into smaller areas. Do not scrub the entire rock, you are only removing loose or decaying material.
  3. Place rock under water and use the submersible pumps to create a vigorous water pattern in the container; use the heater to keep the water at 80 degrees.
  4. Keep the container covered or dimly lit to prevent unwanted algae growth during high nutrient conditions.
  5. Perform 100% water changes twice per week
  6. Repeat scrubbing as necessary in-between water changes.
  7. After the first week test the water for ammonia, once the ammonia levels have been reduced to zero the rock is cured and ready for the aquarium.