How to Use Live Rock in a Saltwater Aquarium


Keeping saltwater fish is a fun and rewarding hobby. To succeed, you need to start with the right tools and knowledge.

Pick Your Tank- You should get going with a tank that holds at least 29 gallons of water. The greater the aquarium’s volume, the more stable its ecosystem.

Position it so that it won’t become too hot or too cold and where it won’t be in the way of any doors that lead outdoors. Be sure there’s a power source within reach of the tank. Finally, decide where in your home you’ll be able to appreciate your aquarium the most.

Use a beam level to ensure that your aquarium is perfectly horizontal. To raise the stand off the ground, use shims. Shims under the stand and a level tank indicate that you can start stocking your aquarium.

To get ready, wipe the inside of the aquarium off with a damp cloth or paper towel. Soap and other common household cleaners should never be used in or around an aquarium.

The aquarium’s filter and power connections can be concealed by attaching a background to the aquarium’s exterior back. It improves the aesthetics of your aquarium by giving it more dimension.

Filtering It: A saltwater aquarium with live rock and fish can be filtered differently. A power filter, often mounted on the aquarium’s rear wall, is the most popular choice. We’ll be employing one here because power filters are so ubiquitous and inexpensive. If you’re using a different kind of filter, read the instructions that came with it. There are some variations in technique depending on the power filter brand, but in general: Mount the filter to the aquarium’s rear wall. Insert the air intake tube into the opening and fill the filter with media as directed. Please wait to connect the filter.

Put in a Protein Skimmer to Get Rid of Dissolved Organics and Other Waste Products from Your Aquarium. The protein skimmer should be hung on the wall opposite the power filter. Don’t connect it to the wall just yet!

Mount a Power Strip – It is a good idea to install a power strip underneath the cabinet for further protection. It’s unsafe to place a power strip on the floor behind an aquarium stand because of the potential for water damage.

Live rock, as the name implies, is a rock that has adhering organisms that are still alive. A gallon of aquarium water requires 1–2 pounds of “cured” live rock. Ensure the rock is stacked securely but not too tightly, so water can easily flow through it. Don’t cover more than half to three-quarters of your substrate with rocks; this will allow for adequate water turnover.

Aragonite is a valuable substrate that can be added to assist in maintaining a healthy pH by slowly dissolving and releasing buffers. Put in enough substrate to make a layer an inch thick. Aragonite should be poured into a gap in the aquarium’s flooring. The aquarium’s bottom should then be coated uniformly with it.

The Heater – Make use of submersible heaters that include temperature controls. When installing or adjusting your heater, be sure to consult the manual. Do not connect the heater to the outlet just yet. Temperatures should be between 80 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit for the first four to six weeks (long enough to lay the biological groundwork). Turn the thermostat to between 74 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit once the tank has cycled. Get a thermometer to check the aquarium’s heater’s accuracy.

The Powerhead – Power heads improve the aquarium’s water flow and current. They maintain the living rock’s water flow. Installing the power head on your aquarium should follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Add Water You can buy sterile, pre-mixed saltwater at most pet and aquarium shops. Use a hydrometer to check the salt concentration and ensure the reading is between 1.020 and 1.024. It’s time to add a water conditioner. Make sure the pH level is between 8.0 and 8.4 by conducting tests. Slowly drench one of the live pebbles lining the aquarium’s base. The water level in the aquarium should be just over the bottom of the frame.

Initiating the Machine Make sure your hang-on power filter compartment is at least half full of water. Connect the filter to a power source. The aquarium’s water supply will be sucked up the intake tube and overflow. Turn on the heat and protein skimmer.

The tops should be made of glass, and the strip lights should be placed on top of the glass and then plugged in and turned on. The recommended daily light on time is between 6 and 10 hours.
Your aquarium is now fully functional. Don’t just go out and grab some fish yet; educate yourself on water quality first.

Lauren Schmoyer ran one of the largest aquarium shops on the East Coast for twenty-five years. Lauren has written several how-to manuals to put new hobbyists in the correct direction.

To get started, visit for additional information about marine and saltwater aquariums, water quality, and excellent saltwater fish.

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