If you read the recent update on our new test tank, you’ll already know that we’ve recently added live rock to the system. If you are anything like us, you’ll agree that this can be both an exciting, but also worrying time. New organisms appear on a daily basis and sometimes they aren’t all good news. Having said that, few will deny that the sense of wonder this period evokes is unique. In our experience, the quality of the rock used can prove pivotal to the long term success of a system and unfortunately, we’ve seen some poor rock being sold (for as much as £15 a kilo). As such, it important you put in the research to ensure you are getting the best start for your reef. In this review we share our experience of procuring live rock by mail order from online supplier liverock.co.uk.
First-off, a minimal time in transit is crucial when ordering rock as the longer it is out of water, the more it will ‘die-off’ (shipping in water is an option but freight costs are usually very high, and some die-off may be experienced even then). For this reason we were pleased that liverock.co.uk kept in touch regularly with progress updates on our order. On the pre-planned day of delivery we received a text message early in the morning to give us an hour slot during which time the delivery would arrive. Sure enough, it arrived bang within the slot and this was extremely useful in allowing us to plan other activities during the day. Overall the rock was in transit for significantly less than 24hrs which shouldn’t lead to significant die-off according to numerous sources. In terms of packaging, this ‘dry-shipped’ rock was well-wrapped and cushioned by polystyrene beads which ensured that breakages were minimal and that the rock was well insulated. This was all contained within thick-walled, lidded polystyrene boxes, which were in-turn encased in cardboard boxes.
So let’s get to the interesting bit anyway – the rock itself. For this order we were delighted to receive 4 different ‘types’ of fully cured rock. Firstly, we opened our branch rock order and were immediately impressed by the size and condition of the pieces. Second, we opened our Bali rock which was equally impressive with several large boulders and plates. Next came the Fiji which was light and porous, and exhibited wonderfully convoluted shapes with some purple coralline algae visible. Finally we opened our bluestone order and were immediately impressed with the interesting forms and texture. This is also a very porous, light rock and should be excellent for denitrification.
After several days within the tank, we are pleased to report that our shipment appears to be absent of nuisance organisms (aiptasias, majanos, flatworms, crabs, eunicids, mantids etc). Obviously time may reveal otherwise, but in our experience we’d expect to have seen some of these by now. We’ve been extremely careful in our observations of course, using both red light viewing at night to check, plus we’ve even broken-out our pure fluorescence viewing equipment to scan for nuisance anemones. The rock certainly isn’t lifeless though, indeed we’ve already spotted a small chiton, some zoanthids, lots of sponges and some macro algaes, plus lots of ‘pods of course. We can also report that Ammonia and Nitrite spikes have been and gone, and were not significant (Note: we used Red Sea Pro test kits to monitor these levels and compared the results to our established reef stocked with healthy, growing soft, LPS and SPS corals).
So that’s where we are at the moment. If you are considering ordering live rock online then consider dropping liverock.co.uk a note. We are certainly happy with the shipment we’ve received anyway. All we need to do now is aquascape properly…. but that’s a whole new challenge!