Aquariums can bring the wonder of the sea's colorful fish into your home or business. Saltwater tanks are especially captivating, due to the size, hues, and variety of ocean fish. Crafting a healthy and thriving aquatic environment is the key to enjoying your saltwater aquarium, and live rock can help.What is live rock?
Sometimes abbreviated LR, this stone is not itself a living thing. What makes this stone "live" are the microscopic and visible creatures that reside on it. These may include living coral, sponges, coralline algae, macroalgae, clams, mussels, and crustaceans such as shrimp or crabs. Introducing such a mini-ecosystem into your aquarium is an easy way to transfer helpful creatures and cycle a newly established tank more quickly.What different types of live rock are there?
Sometimes, the rock is grouped geographically according to where it was collected, such as with Caribbean live rock. Generally, though, it can be placed in three basic categories:
- Reef rock: These are chunks of broken coral collected outside a coral reef. Reef rock generally houses encrusting organisms such as sponges and coralline algae. Stones from outside the reef afford less risk of introducing unwanted hitchhikers into your tank.
- Inshore rock:Collected within the reef, this denser rock may house macroalgae and invertebrates such as crabs, shrimp, mussels, or clams. It may also contain parasites such as bristle worm.
- Dead base rock: Also called dry rock, this rock has no living creatures on it or in it. It is suitable for building an aquascape, coral seeding, or as a base for other types of live rock.
Live rock serves three primary purposes within the marine aquarium.
- Aesthetics - It enhances the appearance of the aquarium with natural materials, resembling an authentic aquatic environment.
- Shelter - Often full of holes and crevices, it provides shelter for fish and crustaceans residing in the aquarium.
- Water Quality - It becomes the main source of biological filtration, also called the biological nitrification base, by introducing beneficial alga, bacteria, and invertebrates. The porous surface provides much surface area for essential nitrifying bacteria to thrive. These microorganisms help to cleanse the water by converting waste products into harmless, sometimes useful, substances.
Dry rock, that which has no attached organisms, is suitable decor for a freshwater ecosystem and won't harm freshwater fish. Cichlids, catfish, and algae-eaters especially appreciate rocky, creviced hideaways. However, beneficial live alga and oceanic creatures residing on other types of rock require salt water. Dry stone is safe for use in terrariums and paludariums housing reptiles, amphibians, or other creatures as well.