AquariumRock Work

Live Rock or Dead Rock For Your Aquarium

Live Rock or Dead Rock for an aquarium is one debatable topic. Most of us in the hobby can talk for hours on this topic. We all know the importance and beauty of rock work in a marine aquarium. Our aquarium tanks are incomplete without them. Not only because of the aesthetic value we need the rock for stabilizing the water parameters. Rocks later host a large number of beneficial bacteria which help us in the water cycle.

Before we start the discussion on live rock vs dead rock, I wanted to explain a bit on what I mean by living and dead.

Dead rock is one which is dry and has never been in contact with water. Live rock, on the other hand, is wet and is from another aquarium system or directly from the ocean. Both of the types have pros and cons which will be discussing in the post.

Over a period of time, I have dealt with both dry and live rock here is my take.

Live Rock or Dead Rock-1

Advantages of Live Rock

  1. Live rock is far better if compared to dry rock in biological filtration.
  2. Live rock already has nitrifying and denitrifying bacteria.
  3. LR looks more real and elegant in an aquarium.
  4. This will help you in stabilizing your pH.
  5. Some live rock will have good hitchhikers.

Disadvantages of Live Rock

  1. Live rock is expensive.
  2. Not all hitchhikers are good for aquarium.
  3. Live rock from the ocean may lead to over-harvesting.

Advantages of Dry Rock

  1. No pest or bad hitchhikers.
  2. Not very expensive compared to Live Rock
  3. Easy to aquascape
  4. Different type and shaped rock available
  5. No pressure on the ocean ecosystem

Disadvantages of Dry Rock

  1. No beneficial bacteria so cycling will take longer
  2. Not exactly the real sea rock looks

Now let us answer a few most common questions asked in terms of Live Rock and Dead rock

Is Live Rock Absolutely Necessary in a Marine Aquarium?

No, live rock is not absolutely necessary in a marine aquarium. They just have some good features that make them very popular in the hobby. They cycle your tank quickly; sometimes coralline algae are present on them and help in biological filtration.

Do live rocks die?

Yes, while shipping live rock or rock out water some dying will occur.

Can Dry Rock Become Live?

Yes, over a period of time dead rock will start growing bacteria and eventually become live.

Can we get Coralline Algae on Dry Rock?

Yes, with good lights and some supplement dosing you and seed a dead rock to get coralline algae.

Personal Preference on Live Rock vs Dead Rock

I have spoken with a lot of reefers and everyone has their personal preference. Some like live rock and some like dry rocks. Live rock can get your tank started in instantaneously within a week whereas dry will require patience. Even if we have to point out which is better it is simply not possible.

I read each and every post out there on the net and not a single person or forum point out which is better. There are pros and cons of both types and everyone has a preference. So, in this case, what should be the best possible outcome.

After all the research and readings on the topic, I can firmly say that it all depends on you. It is your hobby to do what makes you feel good. If you are ready for a long-term commitment to your tank and know the possible outcomes. There is no way your choice will be wrong.

There are some great article on this topic ReefHacks and below is a video from Bulk Reef Supply explaining wet or dry live rock?

I would love to know which type of rock did you go for live or dead or mix of both, you can leave a comment below and you will definitely get a reply from me.

Must Read: Substrate vs Bare Bottom in a Saltwater Aquarium


Like always it's my day one in the hobby. Always been a hobbyist but never knew would dive so deep in the hobby. I too started with a freshwater aquarium. When I first started saltwater aquarium it just grew on me and I knew that had to do more in this hobby. I am a Post-Grad in Business Administration have worked with Coldstar Logistics, Amazon and Jindal's before jumping completely in the ocean. Other than aquarium hobby I have my interests in travel, digital games and consumer web technology.

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