For most of my time in the hobby, there were few alternatives to live rock. While some efforts were made to make this aspect of our hobby more sustainable, by and large most rock was, and still is, hacked from the reef. This practice is coming under more scrutiny and more and more collection sites are limiting or prohibiting the collection of live rock.
ENTER THE FAKE ROCKERS
The first company that I came across that offered a compelling alternative to live rock was MarcoRocks. Started a few years ago, Marco Rocks offered some amazing dry rock from Fiji. This rock had the advantage of being cheap, pest free, and quite attractive. The only downsides to this rock were that it truly was dead. While you would not get any pests into your system, you could also forget about any of the beneficial hitchhikers that normally come on live rock. I have set up two tanks with this stuff, and I must say that after a few months you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this stuff and the “real thing.”
BUT I LIKE IT PURPLE AND STINKY!
Some of us were never sold on the idea of the dead rock, or just didn’t have the patience to wait for it to “liven up.” In response to this there are now quite a few cultured live rock options on the market.
The three main contenders for “real fake rock” seem to be Marco Rock, Fish Heads, and Walt Smith. The main differences lie in how the rock was made and cured. Marco has been promising a cultured rock for a while now, and their plan seems to be to just throw the rock in the Gulf and let it get colonized. FHI makes its own rock out of Aragonite and some other stuff, then cures it in a captive system. While Walt Smith has introduced a fully cultured live rock, that seems to be permanantly purple. Meaning, no matter how crap your parameters are, as long as you can see the rock beneath the mat of algae you are cultivating, it will look pretty.
HOW ABOUT HOMEGROWN?
Screw the man! I can make my own! Not wanting to be left behind (or too cheap to keep up), there are quite a few recipes and advocates for making your own rock at home. Historically this rock has resembled ossified poo. Nothing against poo, but I was never a fan of it in my tank. Things have been changing recently and home made rock is beginning to take on the appearance and characteristics of actual rock, which is decidedly non-poolike. One of our members and contributors to the site, Simon Garratt has a wonderful article on the subject in Reefs Magazine. Check it out and make sure your rock never looks like poo again!
For more information on these rocks, follow the links below.
Marco Rocks offers a large selection of aquarium supply products, dry live rock, aquarium sand and much more! Check us out today at www.marcorocks.com.