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Can I use old dead LR or LS?

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Mark Peterson View Drop Down
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    Posted: June 07 2010 at 11:26am
I'm sure some are asking, "What is old dead LR? What is old dead LS"

Dead Live Rock (read about LS further below)

This is Live Rock that has been left out to dry or because of being covered with nuisance organisms, like Aiptasia Anemones, Majano Anemones or Hair Algae, has been treated for a day or more in a bath of freshwater or bleach or some other solution designed to kill the bad stuff.

Some hobbyists will use this dead LR in a startup reef aquarium. Problems can arise with this. The biggest problem is that coral and algae fail to grow and sometimes even die.

Let's look at why this happens. This once live rock has become dead all the way into the center. Yes, the center of LR is alive too, with essential bacteria. I treat LR the same as I would a coral or a fish. It is really that valuable as a live colony of organisms. Nitrification and Sulfurization processes occur within the center areas of Live Rock. These processes are a very important part of the filtration needed in our little eco-systems.

When the bacteria in the center areas are killed and then the rock is placed back into the tank, the chemical compounds, the pollution from that dead stuff, leaches back out into the tankwater. These polluting compounds are irritating to coral and can even completely stop coral and algae growth.

The simple answer to this problem is of course not to use old dead LR. If hobbyists realized this about LR, they would treat it with more TLC. They would avoid leaving it out to dry or would use alternative methods of cleaning of the nuisance organisms. But there is a way to avoid the problem.

What I have described above is not always the case. Some dead LR does not seem to create the problems mentioned. Also, if a smaller percentage of dead LR is used along with good LR, the problems are less noticeable. A hobbyist who adds several nice pieces into a mature reef tank already containing a complete array of good healthy LR will notice that the new pieces take a little longer to come to life, but they do eventually come back.

There are two products I know of that can help fix the problem. "Poly Filter" and "Purigen" are specifically designed to remove harmful chemical compounds while leaving useful elements and nutrients in the water. I have heard some hobbyists claiming bad effects with the continued use of Purigen. If I had the problem and had access to Purigen, I would try it for a few weeks and then remove it, hoping it had helped.

To be certain of fixing the problem with no bad effects, I would suggest Poly Filter. I personally used Poly Filter in a 75 gal tank that I set up full of old dead LR. The first 2 months since setup had seen no growth and even the death of coral and a BTA placed in that tank. I placed a pad of Poly Filter in a HOB Filter. Within a few days there was a noticeable difference and within 2 weeks the algae and coral were growing normally.ClapClap To be sure to remove all the compounds from the rock, at two weeks I replaced the used up pad with a new pad and let it run for another 2 weeks.

Dead Live Sand

Can I use a bucket of sand that came with the tank and sat for a week? It's still wet/damp.

Yes, but the same principles apply as above with LR. That bucket of once Live Sand is now dead and stinky. LS is alive. It had billions of live critters, from bacteria and protozoans to grammarus and worms. By putting it all in a bucket and placing the lid on top, the life was suffocated. Without oxygen, the whole bucket went anaerobic and killer hydrogen sulfide/rotten egg gas is the result. I would be very careful with old dead LS.

Depending on the length of time the sand was in the detrimental conditions, it should be rinsed very clean with freshwater and never used as the exclusive source of sand in a tank. It will need the same care as using old dead LR.

If a hobbyist wants to preserve the life in the LS, it should be kept in a bucket for no longer than 4-6 hours or placed for a longer term in tubs with no more than 6" sand depth covered in 3-6" of good tank water above the sand level. A powerhead for circulation will help even more.




Edited by Mark Peterson - June 19 2010 at 9:03am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CapnMorgan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2010 at 12:51pm
Great post Mark!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lewy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2010 at 9:04pm
Thanks Mark.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, You need your own section to post all of your write ups.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bugzme Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2010 at 9:07pm
Don't tell him that! sometimes he comes off the wrong way.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lewy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 07 2010 at 9:11pm
Smile  yeah but don't we all at times?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PDoug Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 09 2010 at 12:31am
Perfect timing for the reef godfather to post this lol Good post mark
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 15 2010 at 9:43am
Smile I am not sure about a godfather, but I thank God, my Heavenly Father for granting me knowledge and passion for this hobby.Heart
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sterling18 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 15 2010 at 9:49am
Mark, you ever thought of putting a blog together so all the info is in one place.  Similar to Marc Levenson.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 15 2010 at 10:07am
Well, I do have a website that Jake Pehrson set up for me years ago when I was starting to do tank maintenance in St. George. It's outdated now, marksreef.com, but I don't know about a blog. hmmm....
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