Have you noticed changes in the water quality and the presence of unexplained nitrates and ammonia in your tank? This is probably because of the excessive algae, bristle worm, and odd-looking creatures you have not seen before. If you have introduced an untreated Live Rock in the system, this must be causing it. Is all of it affecting the entire aquarium creatures?
Undoubtedly, Live Rock can bring multiple benefits to your aquarium, but it can also infect it if proper precautionary measures are not taken. It is essential to treat it thoroughly when you buy it from the market or get it straight from the seabed. If you have missed that already, it is time to take it out of your aquarium and go for the specific treatment.
So, what’s the treatment then? Boiling? This is one of the possible answers you can often find from different online sources. But we will not recommend you to go for it as boiling is dangerous. Are there any alternatives? Hold on; we’ll cover all of them in this article.
The focus of this article is on:
- Need to treat a live rock
- Explaining why Boiling Live Rock is a bad idea
- Alternative ways to prepare live rocks
Why do you need live rock in your tank?
You should be fully aware that live rock is a living piece of stone house to multiple invertebrates and nitrifying bacteria. And this is one of the most important reasons you want to place the live rock in your aquarium. It will process the ammonia in your tank, bringing a healthy environment for the fish and corals.
Why do you need to treat a live rock?
One of the prominent reasons for treating the live rock is to keep the nasty hitchhikers out of your tank. As the good bacteria and worms can enter your aquarium through the live rock, there is a potential that unwanted invertebrates and bacteria can make their way to your aquarium, creating problems for the other living organisms of your tank.
So to avoid all of it, treating a live rock is essential, and there is no compromise over it.
What is the boiling technique?
In the boiling technique, you literally boil the live rock in water for 5-10 minutes and then take it out. But it is not as easy as it seems. You have to ensure a container arrangement that would hold the live rock in boiling condition. Besides, creating the complete setup and then taking it out of the container are the real challenges you’ll face if you choose this treatment method.
For some people, the result of such an effort could be fruitful, while others regard it as an unnecessary hassle when there are other methods for treating a live rock available.
So, should you opt for it? It is totally up to you. But we’ll suggest you go through the reasons for not billing and the alternate techniques available for live rock treatment before you decide.
Why shouldn’t you boil the rock?
Well, you could be thinking if boiling can yield the desired benefits, why is it not the recommended method, or why is it considered dangerous? There are multiple reasons for making such a claim.
Firstly, boiling rocks emits fumes that are dangerous to humans, so when opting for this procedure, you pose a danger to your health. The fumes will keep on emitting when you place the boiled live rock in the water again, thus creating a harmful environment for your fish.
Secondly, it creates pressure within the rock, which can make it burst. The explosion can be severe enough to significantly harm you. Several cases have been reported.
Alternative methods to treat the live rock
As we have discussed, treating the live rock is essential. So, if not boiling, what are the other methods for the treatment?
Actually, there are three stages when considering the treatment of the live rock and its inclusion in the aquarium: cooking, curing, and cycling.
Cooking – it is more of a boiling thing. It means you’ll kill all the unwanted organisms from the live rock, no matter what strategy you adopt. Unfortunately, while doing so, you’ll end up the good bacteria as well.
Curing – is the process in which you remove the excess nutrients from the live rock, considering them to be the problem for your tank. All the measures taken at this stage are for actively removing the excessive ingredients while building positive bacteria.
Cycling is the last stage and is often done after the curing or treatment stage. You take all the measures to build up the beneficial bacteria on your rock within this stage.
When you are aware of the three stages, you will be better positioned to make a better choice. And since these stages contain cooking, we’ll go on to describe some alternative methods to prepare a live rock.
Black bin treatment
Most of the pests that your live rock contains feed on algae and other organisms which make their food through photosynthesis. So, if you can cut down the light source, the food production will stop, and so does the pest.
You have to put your live rock in a dark bin with no light source in this method. However, you’ll need the water circulation and heater. Besides, massive water changes will be required. This setting must be maintained from 4-6 weeks to kill the undesirable organisms while maintaining the healthy bacteria in the tank.
After 4-6 weeks, you can use a scrubber and treat the rock with phosphate and nitrate remover. It will do the trick.
Bleach is one of the alternate methods to treat the rock. Here is the complete procedure for doing so.
- Take a bucket with bleach in it.
- Put the live rock in the bucket for 3 days.
- After 3 days, rinse the live rock and put it in a bucket full of water.
- Let it be there for a day or two before starting the cycling process.
Muriatic acid bath
Like the bleach bath, the muriatic acid bath can treat the live rock and make it optimal for your aquarium. However, you must expect the deterioration of the rock’s outer layer due to a solid acidic reaction.
Mix 3 parts acid with one part water to create a suitable mixture for treatment.
In this case, you must soak the live rock in water for a few weeks to get the acid out and let the good bacteria take control of the rock. Do not forget to change the water every few days to nullify the impact of the acid release.
Another thing to note here is that muriatic acid can be dangerous, so you must be cautious while using it and when handling your live rock drenched in a muriatic acid bath.
Boiling your live rock will be an extreme step that you would be taking to treat your live rock. It will kill the parasites, but the good bacteria on the rock will die, leaving you back to position zero. Besides, it is dangerous because of fumes and high pressure built up. The pros of using this method can only be more if you are starting with a new tank and ready to invest your time and energy in making the dead rock (after boiling) live again.
It will be better to consider alternative methods for treating your live rock in all the other cases. They will be easier and safer for you.
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